The Frontier City and White Water Bay parks will go on the block after October to help cut Six Flags' $2.4 billion debt. The move to New York will allow company executives to be closer to the entertainment industry, Six Flags said in a statement Friday.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Shapiro, who joined the company from ESPN, said the sales will let the company focus on major markets, while the relocation will give Six Flags a strong corporate identity in New York. Shapiro and Snyder are revamping Six Flags after attendance and revenue fell for two consecutive years.
"This is the first of a handful of parks that will be brought up for sale," said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a theme park consultant based in Cincinnati. "Every time they sell a park it will help them reduce their debt."
The move from Oklahoma City will affect 40 employees, some of whom may relocate to New York City. Others may shift to a small corporate office in Grand Prairie, Texas, company spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg said. The move is being handled by real estate developer Staubach Co., run by former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach.
The Oklahoma City water and theme parks, which Six Flags has operated since 1989, will be open during the 2006 season. After the transaction, Six Flags will own 28 parks. It operates The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Queensbury, and will open a hotel and indoor water park in Queensbury next month.
Shares (NYSE: PKS) closed Friday at $11.24, down 11 cents. The stock has more than doubled over the past 12 months.
Speigel, the theme park consultant, said potential buyers for the parks include private equity firms. Major theme park operators such as General Electric Co.'s Universal Parks & Resorts and Cedar Fair LP would not be interested because the parks are in small markets, he said. Amusement parks have been selling for about seven times earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization.
Source : Timesunion