Cedar Fair seeks Kinzel successor

From the Sandusky Register


Cedar Fair says it has launched the hunt for a new CEO to replace Dick Kinzel, 70, who has run the company since 1986.

Tuesday, Kinzel said his employment agreement ends on Jan. 2, 2012, and Cedar Fair’s board is working to find a successor.

“As is the case with any public company, this is a confidential process that is expected to include both internal and external candidates,” Kinzel said. “Out of fairness to all involved, we will have no further comment until we are ready to announce a new CEO.”

Cedar Fair spokeswoman Stacy Frole said she can’t offer a timetable on when a new CEO will be announced.

Also Tuesday, Cedar Fair announced its 2010 third-quarter and nine-month results, with attendance and revenues both up through October. Promotions were also awarded to four company executives.

Net revenues for the first nine months of 2010 are up $37.4 million from the same months in 2009. Last year’s revenue in that period was $810.5 million; this year, it’s $847.9 million.

Through Sept. 25, Cedar Fair’s amusement parks had 19.8 million visitors, up 6 percent — about 1 million people — from the same period last year, Kinzel said.

Results through October appear even better. Based on preliminary results, attendance is up 8 percent — about 1.6 million people — through the first 10 months, with revenues going from $914 million to $974 million.

Cedar Fair officials also said they plan to resume quarterly cash distributions in 2011, beginning with 8 cents per limited partner unit in March 2011. A total of about 35 cents will likely be paid next year, they said.

The company had previously announced it would pay 25 cents per unit in December.

Cedar Fair also announced three new executive vice presidents Tuesday.

Those include Peter Crage, formerly corporate vice president and chief financial officer; H. Philip Bender, formerly regional vice president since June 2006 and, prior to that, vice president and general manager of Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.; and Richard A. Zimmerman, who had been regional vice president since June 2007.

Those employees will handle more of Kinzel’s day-to-day duties, which Kinzel said will provide him more time to focus on growing the business and developing the company’s executives.

David R. Hoffman, formerly vice president of corporate tax, is now vice president of corporate finance and tax.

Cedar Fair’s biggest investor, Dallas area investment banker Geoffrey Raynor, has filed a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, asking for a special meeting of investors to consider two proposals: Bring in a new chairman of the board and have Kinzel relinquish that post to concentrate on his CEO duties; and, secondly, make an increase in cash distributions a bigger priority than paying off the company’s debt.

Raynor’s company, Q Funding III, is still awaiting SEC approval of a proxy statement that would allow Raynor to begin his campaign for the changes, a spokesman said Tuesday.

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