SeaWorld will cut jobs, CEO steps down

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The company that owns SeaWorld San Diego announced Thursday that a restructuring plan will cost some employees their jobs.

The first to lose a position at Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment was President and CEO Jim Atchison, who is being replaced after a troubled year or so in which the company has been beset by accusations that animals have been mistreated.

SeaWorld vehemently denies the allegations.

The company’s stock has also been battered in recent months, defying a general increase in the financial markets.

The restructuring will affect all 11 parks run by the company and is aimed at saving $50 million this year and next, SeaWorld said. The company did not reveal how many San Diego positions will be affected.

“In order to achieve the goals of our business realignment, we regret that some positions will necessarily be eliminated,” Atchison said. “However, our cost savings effort is part of a broader program to position us for long term growth.”

SeaWorld Entertainment said Atchison will become a vice chairman of the Board of Directors and consult on international expansion. He’s being replaced on an interim basis by David D’Alessandro, the board chairman.

“We remain committed to our growth agenda and enhancing value for our shareholders,” D’Alessandro said. “The board intends to complete the search process deliberately and thoughtfully to find the right individual with the experience and qualifications to lead the company into the future.”

SeaWorld Entertainment stock closed at $16.09 today on the New York Stock Exchange. It hovered around $35 as recently as April.

Besides San Diego, the company runs SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio, Busch Gardens in Tampa and Williamsburg, Va., and various water parks.

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