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AP Photo/John Raoux

Merlin Entertainments has approached SeaWorld Entertainment about a possible investment, as first reported yesterday by Bloomberg. SeaWorld shares spiked in the aftermarket on the news, increasing its market cap at one point to nearly $1.5 billion.

Why it matters: Sea World's reaction to this approach may give some insights into its level of desperation, four years after the critical Black Fish documentary. Reports are that it wants to sell the entire company, but Merlin likely is only seeking the Busch Garden parks given its internal policy against keeping marine mammals in captivity. If it proceeds with Merlin, that means Sea World isn't expecting suitors for the whole package.

Key number is 23. That's the per share price that China's Zhonghong Zhuoye Group paid earlier this year to buy a 21% stake in Sea World from The Blackstone Group. Yesterday, Sea World shares closed at just $14.11.

Bloomberg goes deeper: "The offer comes as SeaWorld... struggles to stem declines in sales and the stock price of the Orlando-based park owner once famous for its killer whales. For Merlin, a deal by the operator of the London Eye and Madame Tussauds waxworks would mark a continuation of its strategy to expand internationally to cope with a drop in day-trippers to the British capital following terrorist attacks in London and Manchester."

Go deeper

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Biden says $1,400 stimulus payments can start going out this month

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.