August 18, 2009 / 9:12 PM / 10 years ago

Former execs offer to manage bankrupt Six Flags

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - Former executives of bankrupt Six Flags Inc SIXFQ.OB have offered to manage the world’s biggest regional theme park operator and said they could raise its value by up to $300 million.

“We’d be willing to come back out of retirement and run it for a year or two,” Larry Cochran, who left as chairman of Six Flags Theme Parks in 2000, told Reuters by phone. He said the offer was made to protect the pension plan.

In a letter to the court, Jim Prager, a former Six Flags vice president, said the pension plan was underfunded by $35 million by his estimate. Prager asked the bankruptcy court to appoint a committee of retirees who could speak as one voice on behalf of former staff.

Both Prager and Cochran were part of Six Flags before it was acquired by Premier Parks Inc in 1998. Premier kept its top brass in place, but changed its name to Six Flags in July 2000.

Prager’s letter outlined steps that he and Cochran would take to boost the value of the company, such as relocate its headquarters and cut bonuses.

“To assist the debtor and its stakeholders, a group of us who as senior executives successfully built and operated the company in the 1970s and 1980s, would be willing to return to manage the company for $1 per year with such discretionary bonus compensation as the bankruptcy court or stakeholders might deem appropriate,” Prager wrote in the letter.

A spokeswoman for Six Flags declined to comment. Prager also declined to comment.

Prager’s filing with the court also mentions former chief executive officer, Dan Howells, and Joe Schillaci and Del Holland, former marketing and retail executives.

Six Flags filed for bankruptcy protection in June with a plan that analysts have said benefits secured lenders and management. The bankruptcy plan offered far less for unsecured creditors than the proposal made prior to the Chapter 11 filing.

Cochran said the offer was not a criticism of the current management, and he said the bankruptcy resulted from too much debt. He said he had not studied the proposed plan of reorganization.

“We’re offering this in case the reorganization plan doesn’t work out,” said Cochran. “We’re trying to protect the pension plan not just for me but all the guys who put in 20-30 years.”

The case is In re Premier International Holdings Inc. and Six Flags Inc., U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 09-12019.

Reporting by Tom Hals; Additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman

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