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Six Flags Files For Chapter 11

June 16, 2009 By: George Dooley

Six Flags, one of the largest regional amusement-park companies, has filed for bankruptcy. The company said it expect the expedited court approval to proceed quickly and that it intends to emerge in the coming months with a significantly improved balance sheet and greater operational and financial flexibility.

“Our brand and our operations are on solid ground. This process is strictly a financial restructuring of our debt,” Mark Shapiro, president and CEO told employees and shareholders. "Unfortunately, we inherited an unsustainable $2.4 billion debt load from the previous management team. To put it into context, even if you have a record year and make approximately $275 million as we did last year, when you have to pay out approximately $175 million in interest expense on your debt and $100MM in park improvements to maintain and keep up with the business, that's a balancing act you just can't risk year in and year out.  Furthermore, we have over $400 million of debt coming due within the next 12 months that cannot be refinanced in these financial markets.”

“The turnaround strategy we began implementing in the spring of 2006 has come to fruition," Shapiro continued. "Together, we cleaned-up our parks, enhanced the overall guest experience, repositioned the Six Flags brand by diversifying our product offering, and the company became free cash flow positive for the first time in its history. We delivered on our agenda and as a result, rebuilt the faith, trust and overall relationship with the consumer.

“Today, we are moving to rectify our balance sheet once and for all. [Saturday], Six Flags announced it is seeking expedited approval from the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware of its pre-negotiated plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code," Shapiro told shareholders. "The plan has unanimous support of the lenders’ Steering Committee and the Administrative Agent for the Company’s $1.1 billion senior secured credit facility.  This support is evidenced by executed lock-up agreements. We expect to proceed quickly and we intend to emerge from these proceedings in the coming months with a significantly improved balance sheet and greater operational and financial flexibility.”


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