Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder yesterday took another run at persuading shareholders of Six Flags Inc. to effectively turn over control of the company to him and his hand-picked team, saying that shareholders are not likely to get a better offer.
Snyder also took issue with the company's recent decision to close a theme park in Houston and suggested he might sue if the company tries to sell off any more of its assets before shareholders make up their minds.
In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Snyder criticized the current board's recent decision to put the company up for sale, saying it isn't likely to lead to a better deal for shareholders because of its heavy debt load and other costs.
Six Flags' board put the company up for auction last month just days after Snyder asked shareholders to oust chief executive Kieran E. Burke, Chief Financial Officer James F. Dannhauser, and director Stanley S. Shuman and to replace them with his team. Snyder wants to become chairman of the board and has recruited ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro to be chief executive. He also wants local builder Dwight C. Schar appointed to the Six Flags board.
Six Flags, which operates 30 theme parks in North America, has been struggling in recent years as a result of declining attendance and a debt load of $2.1 billion. Shareholders will have a chance to vote on Snyder's proposal once the SEC approves the materials he has submitted describing his offer.
The Six Flags board is "committed to the sale process" and has already "attracted interest from potential financial and strategic acquirers," said Jeremy Jacobs, a Six Flags spokesman, who declined to name the potential bidders.
The board encouraged Snyder to participate in the auction and said it was concerned that his attempt to gain seats on the board could scare off potential bidders by putting control of the company in doubt.
Snyder, however, made it clear yesterday that he does not want to buy Six Flags at its current price. Shares closed yesterday at $7.31, well above the $6.50 a share he has offered to increase his stake to 34.9 percent. Snyder is currently the company's largest shareholder, with 11.7 percent.
Snyder told shareholders no one else would likely buy Six Fields because of its debt and the multimillion-dollar severance packages for Six Flags managers that would be triggered in the event of a sale. He estimated that the debt and severance packages would add about $170 million to the total cost of acquiring the company. "We believe such costs . . . are likely to deter third parties from being able to make an attractive offer for your shares," he wrote.
Snyder also quibbled with management's decision earlier this week to close AstroWorld in Houston and sell the 109 acres of land around it to developers.
"We intend to take all actions necessary to hold the Board accountable," Snyder wrote yesterday in a letter to the SEC.