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Mark Shapiro comments on Six Flags coming out of bankruptcy


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Source: Six Flags' Facedbook page

 

It is with distinct pleasure that I inform you that effective today the plan of reorganization for Six Flags has officially been confirmed by the bankruptcy court.

 

Before explaining what this means to the Company, I want to emphasize in the strongest, most sincere terms, my admiration for the fortitude, focus and faith you have displayed despite the background noise of restructuring. I realize how frustrating, exhausting and perhaps dispiriting the last year has been. Still, you held firm and pushed through it all with remarkable dedication. Because of you and our unwavering investment in the product, our operation remains sound, our parks look better than ever, and our brand has never stood taller.

 

Over the next several days, the lawyers will finalize a multitude of details, and when the dust settles, Six Flags will have reduced its debt and mandatorily redeemable preferred stock from $2.7 billion last summer to approximately $1.0 billion (excluding seasonal drawings under our revolving credit facility at emergence). While we desired to achieve a lower debt level at emergence, keep in mind that our annual cash interest expense will have been significantly lowered to approximately $75 million. We also will have $725 million in new equity committed by our shareholders.

 

It would be hard to overstate what this new balance sheet means to the Company. Gone are the days when we were forced to pass on opportunities to improve our product and extend our brand because we simply couldn’t afford even a well-vetted and calculated risk. This, however, does not mean that we have an open checkbook. We always will be bound by our fiduciary responsibilities to all stakeholders, and accordingly must carefully weigh the wisdom of each new expense or capital investment. However, now that we are no longer wearing a fiscal straitjacket, we are free to evaluate new opportunities strictly on their merits.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone that having weathered this difficult and lengthy restructuring process, we need to continue to provide our guests with the best entertainment experience in our industry. Although we will not have to work under a crushing burden of debt, we still face formidable challenges from old and new competition made all the more difficult by the current economy.

 

Beginning today, we must re-dedicate ourselves to the proposition that our customers expect and deserve the friendliest, safest, cleanest and most prompt service. Our future success rests on our ability to provide an unforgettable experience. While we now have the financial strength to improve our product and to enhance, expand and extend the reach of our brand, it would be tragic if we forgot – or neglected – the road we traveled to reach this mark.

 

This day should indeed be celebrated, but is not the time to become complacent. We must stay the course, keeping our concentration, intensity and pride. Over the last few years, we have strengthened our company-wide bond and honed our skills. Now, with a new wind at our back, we are fully prepared to surge confidently into the future. Our potential has been multiplied and we must rise to the challenge. In my many discussions with our new Board of Directors, some of whom are continuing their service, I can assure you that the new Board is fully committed to our operational and strategic vision.

 

This chance will never come again. We’ve got our company back. Let’s reinvent and redefine the Six Flags Entertainment Corporation for every guest that walks through our gates.

 

I’m walking side by side with you.

 

Mark

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