Kinzel says Cedar Fair headquarters to stay

From the Sandusky Register

He’s still the boss, and Sandusky will remain the headquarters for Cedar Fair’s amusement and water parks, Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel said.

While Cedar Fair’s ownership is about to change, many factors will stay the same. Kinzel said he is contracted to stay on as CEO and will have an option to extend his contract if he and the new owners of the company reach an agreement for an extension.

“If I had to guess, it would probably be in March of 2013 my contract would be up,” he told the Register in an exclusive interview Thursday.

Kinzel will serve as chairman of the new board of directors assembled by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management, if the deal worked out with the investment firm gets final approval. Apollo has agreed Cedar Fair’s headquarters will remain in Sandusky.

“We’re just a small spoke in their big wheel,” Kinzel said. “This is my home, and this is the home of Cedar Fair.”

On Wednesday, Cedar Fair, the parent company of Cedar Point, announced it reached an agreement with Apollo. The New York company owns many other companies, including AMC Entertainment, Harrah’s and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Cedar Fair unitholders will be paid $11.50 for each unit. The deal is valued at about $2.4 billion, including the refinancing of about $1.6 billion in debt. It’s expected to be finalized by spring 2010.

The agreement in place gives Cedar Fair 40 days during which it may consider proposals from other companies.

By Thursday afternoon, the first batch of documents on the agreement were posted on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Web site.

Kinzel said there would be no major cuts or staffing changes because Cedar Fair already chopped its payroll and expenses to cope with the downturn in the economy.

Employee benefits won’t change either, he said.

Apollo will advise on financial matters but will leave daily operations in the hands of Kinzel and his current executive team.

The company said the merger hinges on acceptance by holders of two-thirds of Cedar Fair’s outstanding units, regulatory approval and other conditions. Kinzel said unitholders will get a letter before the vote detailing specifics of the proposed transaction before the vote.

Kinzel and Peter Crage, Cedar Fair’s corporate vice president of finance and chief financial officer, both said they believe people who own Cedar Fair’s units will support the agreement once they learn more about it.

Cedar Fair was in talks with Apollo “for some time.”

“Apollo approached us,” Kinzel said. “We did not approach them.”

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