Former Six Flags execs to court: We'll run the company for a few years

Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:57 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Former executives of bankrupt Six Flags have offered to manage the world's biggest regional theme park operator and said they could raise its value by up to $300 million. Both Jim Prager and Larry Cochran were part of Six Flags before it was acquired by Premier Parks Inc in 1998. Cochran said the offer was not a criticism of the current management, and he said the bankruptcy resulted from too much debt. He said he had not studied the proposed plan of reorganization.

Read more from Reuters.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 12:00 PM
Jeff's avatar

This might be the most hilarious thing I've read. While these guys are responsible for the worst of the damage, they make two stupid assumptions: 1) They know better and can run a company several times bigger than the one they did, and 2) That the current management has no plan. Duh, why do you think they filed for bankruptcy!


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 12:24 PM
phoenixphan :-)'s avatar

Wow... all I can say is if they were such great managers of the chain, then why are they no longer managing the chain??


Real men ride wood... coasters that is!
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 12:43 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

All I can say is wow.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:18 PM

To paraphrase Kyle from Southpark:

Some people's egos are so out of whack that they will do whatever they can to protectthemselves, and people with a messed up ego can do these mental gymnasticsto convince themselves they are awesome when really they are just d _ _ _ _ _ bags.


Bill
ಠ_ಠ

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:32 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

I beg to differ with you guys on this. How are these former executives stepping forward responsible for the worst of the damage? My recollection must be different when all of the old Six Flags park management teams were quitting by the dozens after these guys left. Was it not Burke, Story and their out-of-control management team from Premiere Parks (ultimately becoming the "new Six Flags") who are responsible for the debt and other issues that Six Flags faces today? I think most people would agree that before 1998 and the impending merger things were much better run by the "old Six Flags." There was consistency in service, quality products and attractions, and the parks were simply fun.

Of course the current management team has a game plan in place. Only now it is being clouded by shady dealings that have come to light done by Dan Snyder and his Red Zone company. It does call into question integrity and responsible management issues, especially for share holders.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:45 PM

Six Flags had out of control debt long before the Premeir takeover.

What are these "shady dealings"?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 2:09 PM
Jeff's avatar

Agreed, that these guys aren't part of the nasty Burke era. They're not running the joint because Premier Parks bought them out, and as such I don't think it had anything to do with their performance.

But like I said, they assume they'd know what to do with this significantly bigger company in a significantly different economy, and that the guys in the Snyder/Shapiro era don't know what they're doing. I think those are two really silly assumptions to make.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 2:17 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

bigboy said:

What are these "shady dealings"?

They planted some trees in exchange for an awning. ;)

*Don't worry, I'll see myself out. Thank you.* :)


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 2:21 PM
Mamoosh's avatar

Don't forget to pack your trunk before you leaf!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:09 PM

Carrie M. said:


bigboy said:

What are these "shady dealings"?

They planted some trees in exchange for an awning. ;)

*Don't worry, I'll see myself out. Thank you.* :)

trying to make the place more "charming"

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:18 PM

First, I have not read the various complaints about insider transactions, that the court is now reviewing.

however, it should be stated that in ANY bankruptcy process, there is always a review of transactions to related parties who are NOT in the filing. (in other words payments to related parties, who didn't file bankruptcy, but got paid from an entity that did).

Every lawyer looks at this stuff, and typically files motions for anything that even remotely looks like an insider deal. Please note that an insider deal (meaning a related entity), doesn't necessarily mean anything evil, illegal, or other than at arms length.


Again, most lawyers for the unsecured creditors file these things hoping to settle, rather than incur significant legal costs analyzing and defending them. However, it must also be said that quirky/unusual transactions like spending for re-runs of American bandstand, and then licensing them to the parks for a butt-load certainly raises an eyebrow.

The phrase fraudulent conveyance comes to mind as well as "Clawback".

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:21 PM

As for Prager and Cochran, they ran the park ops, and Burke and Story ran the buildup of debt.

I don't know how much you can blame those two (P&C) for the house of cards, and the impact that constrained finances (due to debt) placed on the operations.

however, as Jeff said, I don't know that those two are in any position to manage what is in essence a much larger project than they handled previously.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 4:41 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

About my comment in regards to shady dealings that are being called into question: there are issues dealing with Dan Snyder, Red Zone, the money used to purchase Dick Clark Productions and how certain assetts were transferred between companies. There is also an issue of recent transactions and bonuses being paid out in the range of $4 million prior to the bankruptcy filing. Again this is my recollection and I am not looking at the financial news piece that I saw in the past couple of days so please don't quote this.

All I know for sure is something is not "quite right" at Six Flags right now with the current management team, this coming from someone who supports everything Shapiro has done in an attempt to turn the company around. Very telling is the mass-exodus in recent weeks of full-time employees across many of the parks. If you look on Careerbuilder they have been hovering at a consistent 10+ full-time jobs to fill ever week and it is not isolated to just one park. That is very telling there is trouble in an economy were jobs are scarce.

Lastly, someone made a comment about the "ego's" of these former guys willing to take the company over again. I dare say ANYONE who works in the theme park industry has or must have an ego...the industry is really all about one-upmanship and who is "best of the best." That requires a big head : )

Last edited by mlnem4s, Wednesday, August 19, 2009 4:43 PM
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 7:22 PM
Jeff's avatar

Big heads are what got the company into trouble in the first place. A lot of good having the most/tallest/fastest or whatever did them.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:01 PM

Look at the mission statement from SFGAdv - goes something like "To be the first choice for fun and family entertainment in the north east"... Man it's been like 17 years since I rattled that off... Talk abou the "BIG HEAD"... Anyway I believe the writing was on the wall when Warner Bros. bought then quickly sold the parks off (what was that? end of 1992 going into the Premier purchase in 1998?). Of course Great Adventure had it's share of owners all by itself before Six Flags gobbled it up...

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Friday, August 21, 2009 5:44 PM

This is really interesting because the parks are actually probably more profitable now than when these guys were involved in the Time Warner/Bally era. I don't have any data on this but my understanding was that Six Flags was a fairly flat division of Time Warner that was being used to promote films and products. That was the line that management used to justify changes and cut backs when Premier came in.

The Time Warner Six Flags was all about chasing Disney. I remember during orientation at SFOG they actually referred to the mouse as Mickey Rat. The marketing even mentioned that all of the parks, with the exception of Astroworld, were bigger than Disneyland. When Premier came in they tossed all that out and said we are what we are, it's not about Disney anymore it's about running up debt and making cutbacks. :) Now the focus seems to be back on providing a more Disney like product with themed rides.

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Monday, August 24, 2009 6:46 PM

Keep in mind that one of the reasons TW sold to premier in the first place was due to the fiasco they created by witholding cap ex spending at SFOG & SFOT & when they got sued by the partnership owners they went looking for a way out & thus sold to the first company in the industry that went shopping for new parks to manage..


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