BLOG: NY Times 'Deal Professor' raps Cedar Fair

Tom Jackson
Jan 5, 2011


Steven M. Davidoff writes the "Deal Professor" blog for the New York
Times. I interviewed him when I was writing about Apollo Global
Management's proposed acquisition of Cedar Fair.

Davidoff has penned an end of the year blog post on "The Deal Makers
Who Deserve Failing Grades," awarding grades of "F" to several
companies, including Cedar Fair.

Under the heading "Shareholder Rights," Davidoff writes,

"Cedar Fair failed hands down. After missing earnings estimates and
suspending its dividend, Cedar Fair, an amusement park operator,
announced a $2.4 billion sale in December 2009 to the private equity
firm Apollo Global Management. Cedar Fair is based in Sandusky, Ohio,
and has a large local shareholder base.

"These shareholders formed a core group protesting the low price and
management’s participation in the buyout. Cedar Fair responded by
stonewalling its shareholders and postponing a vote on the deal at the
last minute. Shareholders then held their own tea party revolt,
convening an alternative shareholder meeting.

"The sale was canceled, Cedar Fair’s chief executive announced his
retirement, and Cedar Fair is still grappling with a hedge fund
activist shareholder. Deal makers should remember that shareholders do
not react kindly when management tries to manipulate the sale process,
especially when they can see management in the local coffee shop."

I should point out here that the meeting Davidoff refers to was
postponed "at the last minute" by Apollo Global Management, which
under the merger agreement with Cedar Fair had the right to request
the delay.

In a follow-up post, where he awards "A" grades, Dadidoff gives his top award to shareholders of another company, but gives an honorable mention to Cedar Fair shareholders for "resisting low premium takeovers agreed by target boards."

Meanwhile, the Cedar Fair board's latest attack on Q Investments is here.