News & Politics

Snyder’s Six Flags Sinking Fast

Redskins owner Dan Snyder had a little better year on the football field than as a businessman.

According to SEC filings, Snyder and his Red Zone hedge fund have poured some $50 million into his purchase of amusement-park operator Six Flags. Two years ago, when Snyder began building his stake in the company, it traded near $12 a share. In mid-November, after the company missed Wall Street expectations, the stock dropped to $1.91 and has mostly stayed there.

Securities lawyers say that a share price that low creates a perilous situation for Snyder. MarketWatch, among other business media, speculated that the company is “distressed” and listed it among those that may have to file for bankruptcy in 2008.

Should the stock price drop below $1, the stock exchange might be compelled by rule to delist it—which would affect its credit agreements and might send its other investors, such as Bill Gates’s Cascade Investment, running for the exits.

If Six Flags doesn’t begin to recover on its own, Snyder would have to support the stock aggressively. A reverse stock split is one possibility. Or Snyder and his allies, including McLean-based homebuilder Dwight Schar, a Six Flags director, may have to buy all the shares held by the public and take the company private, say attorneys familiar with Snyder’s situation.

Says one lawyer, “He can’t tolerate the price of Six Flags stock being this low for very long. Don’t expect to see the Redskins spending a lot of money.”

Some investors are wondering if the kind of change that turned around the Redskins season—the injury to quarterback Jason Campbell that allowed Todd Collins to shine—might revive the theme-park operator. But the Redskins owner has given no indication that Mark Shapiro, who as CEO gets some of the blame for Six Flags’ problems, would be the latest Snyder employee to get axed.

This article can be found in the February 2008 issue of The Washingtonian.