Cedar Fair nominates new board member

Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011 12:18 PM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN) today announced that the Board of Directors will nominate Gina D. France for a three-year directorship term at the 2011 Annual Meeting of Unitholders to be held on July 7, 2011. France, 52, if elected, would succeed Richard Ferreira, 70, who has notified the Board that he intends to retire as a director at the end of his term, after serving in this capacity for the past 14 years.

France, who would be the fourth new independent director added to the Cedar Fair Board since 2008, would bring more than 30 years of strategic planning, investment banking and corporate finance experience to the position. She currently is President and CEO of France Strategic Partners LLC, an advisory firm that provides strategic planning, special project consulting and transaction advisory services to a wide range of public corporations and private organizations. Prior to founding France Strategic Partners, she was a partner with Ernst & Young LLP and led the firm’s Center for Strategic Transactions® (CST) in Cleveland, where she advised more than 200 chief executive officers and their top management teams on a broad spectrum of strategic initiatives and financial transactions. She also previously served as a managing director of the firm’s Corporate Finance group, where she specialized in advising senior management teams on capital transactions and mergers and acquisitions.

France came to Ernst & Young after a 14-year career in investment banking, primarily with the firm of Lehman Brothers, where she worked out of both the New York and San Francisco offices and was a senior vice president of the firm. During her tenure at Lehman Brothers, she executed more than $5 billion in financings and served as the lead banker for several landmark transactions that were nominated for the Institutional Investor’s “Deal of the Year” award. Prior to Lehman Brothers, she was the International Cash Manager of Marathon Oil Company, then a Fortune “30” company, where she was responsible for funding 26 international subsidiaries.

“After a careful and thorough review of a wide range of potential candidates, we are pleased to have the opportunity to further strengthen our Board with the addition of Gina France,” said C. Thomas (“Tom”) Harvie, independent chairman of the Board. “Gina is a gifted and seasoned business strategist with an excellent understanding of how to effectively maximize value for investors over the long term. We believe she will add substantial independent perspective to Cedar Fair as the Company progresses with its strategic growth plans.”

France graduated Summa Cum Laude with an MBA in Finance from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, where she was an Austin Scholar. She also holds a Bachelor of Science with Highest Distinction in Finance from Indiana University. France currently serves on the boards of several companies, including FirstMerit Corporation, a $14.1 billion bank holding company, where she is chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee, serves as an SEC-designated financial expert on the Audit Committee, and is a member of its Cleveland Advisory Board; and Dawn Food Products, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of bakery products, where she serves on the Audit and Compensation Committees. Her non-profit activities have included serving as, among other things, a member of the Business Advisory Council for Baldwin Wallace College; a founding Board member and Treasurer of In Counsel with Women; and a Trustee and Treasurer of DanceCleveland.

The Company also announced that David Paradeau, 68, and Darrel Anderson, 66, at the request of the Nominating Committee have agreed to not stand for re-election to the Board at the upcoming Annual Meeting in order to reduce the Board to seven directors, as stipulated in a previously announced agreement between Cedar Fair and Q Funding III L.P. and Q4 Funding L.P. (together with Geoffrey Raynor, “Q Investments”), which together beneficially own 10,021,418 units, or approximately 18.1% of the outstanding units of Cedar Fair. The Company had expanded the Board to nine directors in June 2010 to accommodate the addition of two directors suggested at that time by Q Investments.

“On behalf of the Board and the management team, I would like to thank Dick, David and Darrel for their dedicated service and commitment to Cedar Fair over the years,” said Harvie. “Their insight and experience were invaluable as the Company’s revenues and profitability have grown significantly during their terms as directors of Cedar Fair.”

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:17 PM

A female on the Board. Wow.

I mean, wow.

There has been a lot of questioning of the motives of Q Funding but this shakeup has been long overdue and if they lit the flames that started this whole inferno then you have to give them credit for that.

I will admit that I have a better sense of the Board's independence today than I did a year ago.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 2:37 PM

And a strong background in finance won't hurt either.


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