Cedar Fair denies talks of buyout

SANDUSKY Cedar Fair's top executive said Monday a New York Post story about the possible sale of the
Janet
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Cedar Fair's top executive said Monday a New York Post story about the possible sale of the company to a Nevada-based investment firm was long on detail but short on facts.

"We are not currently in discussions with that organization or any other party for the sale of the company," said Dick Kinzel, president and CEO of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.

The Post reported Cedar Fair had entered into "quick-moving talks" with Destiny Capital Solutions about a $4.1 billion deal. Despite Kinzel's denial, Robert McDuff Sr., CEO of the firm, said his company had been in talks with Cedar Fair for the last two weeks and agreed to keep Kinzel and other top officials on board if a deal is made.

"Me and Peter Crage have been communicating through e-mail and phone," McDuff said. "It's just in the early stages."

Peter Crage is Cedar Fair's chief financial officer. He could not be reached for comment Monday, but Cedar Fair spokeswoman Stacy Frole said he had not been in any serious negotiations with Destiny Capital Solutions

"Peter Crage did receive an unsolicited phone call," she said.

Kinzel responded to the Post story in a news release.

"Of course, the board continuously challenges management to find the best strategic alternatives available to increase value to our unitholders, and I do receive inquiries from time to time about a particular park or group of parks, whether it is to sell or to even buy additional parks. Consistent with our policy, I do not intend to comment on any of these discussions on an ongoing basis."

Earlier this month, The New York Post reported that Cedar Fair was reaching out to private equity firms to gauge their interest in a buyout as long as the company's current management team remained the same. The company's price tag was reported to be about $3.3 billion.

McDuff, the marketing director for Alliant Real Estate and Financial Services in Campbell, Calif., said he, along with Alliant broker Sam Roham created Destiny Capital Solutions three weeks ago and contacted Cedar Fair shortly after The Post's original story.

"We want to keep Cedar Fair the same way it is -- the way it's always been -- a family organization," McDuff said. "We just want to go in there and help them."

The deal the investment firm proposed included paying $4.1 billion, or a 20 percent premium over Cedar Fair's current market value, to acquire all of the park's theme-park operator's shares, The Post reported. Destiny Capital Solutions would also spend at least $500 million and as much as $800 million to upgrade all of Cedar Fair's properties, which include 12 amusement parks, five water parks, an indoor water park and four hotel facilities across the nation and Canada. Cedar Fair also owns and operates Star Trek: The Experience, an interactive adventure in Las Vegas.

Cedar Fair nearly doubled in size after it acquired five Paramount Parks -- including King's Island -- from CBS Corp. last summer for $1.24 billion. But the acquisition also left Cedar Fair with almost $2 billion in debt.