- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2006

CBS Corp. put Kings Dominion theme park in Doswell, Va., and its fellow Paramount Parks up for sale this week.

Paramount’s parks, which had about 12 million visitors last year, will remain open through the sale, CBS said.

CBS said “numerous parties” have expressed interest in Paramount, which analysts said could go for $1 billion. The company plans to complete the sale later this year.

Theme parks have a low return and low profit margins and Paramount didn’t fit with the rest of CBS’ media companies, said Anthony DiClemente, a New York media analyst with Lehman Brothers, which has a banking relationship with and owns stock in CBS.

“Theme parks require a lot of ongoing spending and … the CBS management team is enthusiastic about the mass media and advertising business because of how high the margins are,” Mr. DiClemente said.

Two million people visit Kings Dominion’s 12 roller coasters, children’s rides and live shows each year. The park, which is 75 miles south of Washington off Interstate 95, opened in 1975.

Kings Dominion brings in more than $1 million in revenue to Hanover County each year, said Marc Weiss, director of Hanover County economic development.

“It’s one of our top 10 employers and taxpayers,” Mr. Weiss said. “It has a strong economic benefit to Hanover County.”

Paramount also owns Kings Island in Cincinnati and parks in Toronto, Charlotte, N.C., and Santa Clara, Calif.

CBS’ announcement came one day before Six Flags Inc., the theme park company Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder took over in November, announced it is selling its two Oklahoma City parks at the end of the 2006 season.

The world’s largest theme-park company said it is streamlining operations and moving its Oklahoma City offices to New York. Until now, Six Flags had been operating out of dual headquarters in the two cities.

“We continue to evaluate every asset in the Six Flags portfolio with a mission of improving shareholder value,” President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Shapiro said.

Mr. DiClemente said Mr. Snyder’s purchase of Six Flags and the company’s recent decision to sell the two parks probably had nothing to do with CBS’ move.

“Snyder’s purchase highlights that there may be private buyers out there that are willing to invest in the Paramount Parks,” he said.

Prudential Equity Group analyst Katherine Styponias said Six Flags’ stock price, which doubled in six months to $11.24 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange, boosts Paramount’s potential sale price.

“Given the substantial rise recently in Six Flags’s stock multiple … we believe the timing of the announcement is excellent,” she said in a recent report. Prudential does not have a business relationship with CBS.

A Six Flags spokeswoman said yesterday it is not interested in buying Paramount.

CBS Corp.’s stock price fell 1 cent yesterday to $26.80. Six Flags fell 11 cents to $11.24.

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