FWay parks and rest of Six Flags on auction block

Six Flags, whose amusement parks across the country include Enchanted Village and Wild Waves in Federal Way, is for sale to the highest bidder.

The company announced last week its board of directors unanimously agreed to seek offers from possible buyers in what officials said is an attempt to ensure full and fair value for Six Flags stockholders.

The auction process, which has no specific timetable but officials said will be prompt and orderly, is in response to an attempted takeover by Red Zone, an investment firm managed and controlled by Daniel Snyder, who bought an interest in Six Flags a year ago and has since expressed displeasure with its management. He has proposed boosting Red Zone s stake to 35 percent, becoming Six Flags chairman and putting two of his supporters on the board.

Six Flags announced the existing board unanimously opposes Red Zone s attempt to gain control of the company, although Red Zone could be a bidder.

Whether or not Red Zone participates in our auction process, we certainly hope it will not take any action which would impede our ability to maximize value for all stockholders, said Michael Gellert, the board s presiding member.

As for what new ownership could mean to the future of Enchanted Village and Wild Waves, Six Flags spokesman Jeremy Jacobs said it s impossible to speculate on how the company might emerge from a sale. He said the company hasn t made any statements about the future of any of its 30 theme parks 28 of them in 15 states in the U.S. and the other two in Canada and Mexico. Six Flags also operates a hotel and a 2,000-site campground at its park near Buffalo, N.Y.

Inquiries of officials at the Federal Way park Monday were referred to Six Flags corporate headquarters in Oklahama City, Okla., which passed them to Jacobs, a public relations representative in New York City.

Six Flags has claimed strong business of late. Several parks opened highly publicized new rides this year, including Zooma Falls at Wild Waves.

The company bought the Federal Way operation in 2000 and since then has added 12 rides to the 70-acre complex.

Six Flags is the world s largest regional theme park company and second-largest overall in the world, behind Disney. Six Flags stock has traded recently at $7.26 on the New York Stock Exchange. According to published reports, the company had $2.3 billion in long-term debt after the second fiscal quarter ending June 30.

Snyder, the would-be suitor, reportedly offered $6.56 per share to Six Flags stockholders earlier this month and said he wants to replace the company s chief executive officer, Kieran Burke, with Mark Shapiro, an executive of the Disney-owned ESPN sports cable television network.
Snyder is perhaps best-known for his ownership of the Washington Redskins professional football team.

In addition to the Federal Way location, Six Flags has five parks in California, three in Georgia, five in Texas, three in New Jersey, two apiece in Oklahoma and New York, and one each in Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Illinois, Colorado, Mexico (Mexico City) and Canada (Montreal).

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