Six Flags Inc., the theme park operator controlled by Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, has hired a former top executive for Euro Disney SAS to take charge of the company's finances, completing a management overhaul that included replacement of the entire board of directors.
Jeffrey Speed will take over as Six Flags' new executive vice president and chief financial officer on Feb. 1.
One of his main tasks will be to whittle down payments on Six Flags' more then $2 billion in debt, which has eaten into the company's profit in recent years.
Speed pulled off a similar feat at Euro Disney, helping the company avoid bankruptcy in 2004 by restructuring nearly $2.5 billion in debt. Lower debt payments, in turn, helped cut losses last year at the company, which operates two parks outside of Paris.
Speed replaces James F. Dannhauser, who agreed to stay on until April 1 to help with the transition.
Six Flags also hired Lou Koskovolis as executive vice president for corporate alliances, in charge of developing regional and national corporate sponsorships. Koskovolis is a former executive vice president for multimedia sales for ESPN and ABC Sports. He is the third former ESPN executive to join Six Flags management, in addition to Six Flags chief executive Mark Shapiro, who, until last fall, was ESPN's top programming executive.
Koskovolis and Speed will report to Shapiro.
The company also named Andrew Schleimer, formerly a mergers and acquisitions specialist with UBS Investment Bank, as executive vice president for in-park services.
The hires are in addition to the arrival on Six Flags' board of a number of Snyder allies, including former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and local home builder Dwight C. Schar.
The turnover has fueled investor confidence in Six Flags. Shares closed yesterday at $10.16, an increase of 85 percent since Aug. 17, 2005, when Snyder embarked on his campaign.
Source : Washington Post