Apollo Global Management has agreed to acquire North American theme parks operator Cedar Fair for $2.4bn.

The transaction will include the refinancing of Cedar Fair’s outstanding debt. Affiliates of JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, UBS Investment Bank and KeyBanc Capital Markets have provided an aggregate $1.95bn financing commitment in support of the transaction.

Cedar Fair’s chairman, president and CEO, Dick Kinzel, said: "We have considered a wide range of strategic alternatives over the past several years. After considering these strategic alternatives, we have concluded that the transaction with Apollo is in the best interest of our unitholders."

"This transaction allows Cedar Fair unitholders to realise significant value from their investment in our company over recent trading levels," added lead director Michael Kwiatkowski. "Apollo has a strong track record of growing businesses, and its desire to add Cedar Fair to its portfolio serves as a testament to our solid business model and the talent of our people."

The merger is conditioned upon, among other things, the approval of holders of two-thirds of Cedar Fair’s outstanding units, the receipt of regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. Assuming the satisfaction of these conditions, the transaction is expected to close by the beginning of the second quarter of 2010.