Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. has announced its plans to acquire its industry counterpart, Six Flags Entertainment Corp., in a groundbreaking deal valued at approximately $1.88 billion. This acquisition marks a significant consolidation in the theme park sector. It positions the merged entity as a formidable force in the industry.
Shareholders’ New Horizons
Under the terms of the agreement, Six Flags shareholders are poised to receive 0.58 of a share in the newly formed company for each share they currently hold. That is in addition to a $1 cash dividend. This transaction values Six Flags shares at roughly $22.50 each, subject to potential additional dividends. Following the merger, Cedar Fair shareholders are expected to retain a majority stake of about 51% in the new organization, leaving the remaining 49% to Six Flags shareholders.
The amalgamation of Cedar Fair and Six Flags will result in a combined operation of 27 amusement parks, 15 water parks, and nine resorts across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This enhanced portfolio sets the stage for heightened competition with established industry players such as SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. and Walt Disney Co. The merger is anticipated to generate substantial synergies, with projected annual savings of around $200 million within two years post-closing. Additionally, the deal is expected to impact earnings per share within the first year positively.
Valuation and Leadership
The total valuation of the joined entities, inclusive of debt, is pegged at an impressive $8 billion. Cedar Fair shareholders will exchange their stocks on a one-to-one basis. The leadership baton will be passed to Richard Zimmerman, CEO of Cedar Fair, who will steer the merged company, while Selim Bassoul, head of Six Flags, will assume the role of executive chairman. The new conglomerate will retain the Six Flags brand, trade under the ticker ‘FUN’ in New York, and establish its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This landmark deal is slated for completion in the first half of 2024, subject to approval by Six Flags shareholders and regulatory bodies. The transaction has already secured backing from Six Flags’ most significant investor, who holds a 13.6% stake and has entered into a voting and support agreement.
Voices of Dissent
Despite the positive outlook, the merger faces criticism from Six Flags investor Land & Buildings Investment Management LLC. The investor has publicly voiced concerns that the deal falls short in maximizing shareholder value and suggests exploring alternative options. Land & Buildings has previously advocated for Six Flags to adopt a real estate investment trust structure to enhance shareholder returns.
Following the announcement, Six Flags’ stock experienced a 6% surge, trading at $22.25 in New York. Conversely, Cedar Fair’s shares witnessed a slight decline of 1.4%, settling at $36.98.
Historical Context and the Cedar Fair Legacy
It isn’t the first time merger talks have surfaced between Cedar Fair and Six Flags. Discussions held in 2019 did not culminate in an agreement, as reported by Reuters. Moreover, in February 2022, Cedar Fair declined a $63 per share buyout proposal from SeaWorld.
Cedar Fair, hailing from Sandusky, Ohio, has grown from a single Ohio-based property to a renowned operator of regional amusement parks, including California’s Knott’s Berry Farm and Pennsylvania’s Dorney Park. Six Flags, on the other hand, boasts a significant presence across North America, attracting over 145 million visitors annually to its theme and water parks.
This merger represents a pivotal moment in the theme park industry. It combines two of the most prominent operators into a powerhouse set to challenge the status quo.
The post Mega Merger: Cedar Fair to Purchase Six Flags in a Landmark $1.88 Billion Deal appeared first on FintechMode.
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