- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A group controlled by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is calling for Six Flags Inc.’s shareholders to oust its chief executive and two other officials and replace them with Mr. Snyder as chairman, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed yesterday.

Red Zone LLC, Mr. Snyder’s investment firm, said the amusement-park company’s management is not performing as well as it could be, and new leadership could increase shareholder value.

Red Zone wants stockholders to place Mark Shapiro, executive vice president of programming and production of ESPN Inc., as chief executive officer and Dwight Schar, the chairman of McLean home builder NVR Inc., as a board member.

Mr. Snyder “has always wanted to influence what the company does,” said Philip Tasho, chief investment officer of Tamro Capital Partners in Alexandria, who owns 741,410 Six Flags shares. Six Flags “is doing everything you want a company that’s restructuring to do.”

Mr. Snyder’s filing included his continued frustrations with the current management of Six Flags, an Oklahoma City company that owns 30 theme parks across the country, including Six Flags America in Largo.

“The company’s stock has underperformed … over the last five years, and we firmly believe it is time for the board to pursue a new strategy to maximize stockholder value,” according to the filing.

The filing said Six Flags’ share price declined 75 percent since May 2001. It also says the theme park experienced a decline in attendance while attendance rose across the industry.

Red Zone plans to purchase up to 34.9 percent of the company’s shares at $6.50 each. Six Flags stock closed at $5.49 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The report says the new leadership will establish a “clean, safe and fun” brand name for Six Flags, redesign advertising strategies, create new relationships with vendors to sell their own brands in the parks and sell what it calls 3,500 acres of unused real estate.

The filing says Six Flags has focused too exclusively on thrill rides for teenagers “at the expense of families and young children.” Red Zone would make the parks more family-friendly by targeting mothers and young children in advertisements.

As Mr. Snyder has done at FedEx Field, the home of the Redskins, Red Zone also would offer exclusive food rights to vendors to sell their brands in the parks. Red Zone would seek sponsorships for credit card, cell phone and automated teller machine companies.

Mr. Snyder has expressed frustration with Six Flags ownership before. In January, he threatened to sell his stake in the company. Mr. Snyder asked the board to make the management changes — including installing him as nonexecutive chairman — in September, but his request was denied.

Red Zone owns nearly 12 percent of Six Flags’ outstanding shares — four times the amount of stock owned by Six Flags’ directors and officers combined.

Red Zone is seeking 34.9 percent of the company’s stock to avoid the $2.6 million poison pill the company has built in to avoid hostile takeovers, it said in its filing.

Six Flags officials and Mr. Snyder did not return calls for comment late yesterday.

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