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Where art thou, Mark Shapiro?
Dan Snyder‘s business partner and protege was named CEO of Six Flags when Snyder took over the amusement park chain by leading a stockholder coup in 2005. And for a long time, Shapiro was front and center whenever the company was in the news. Shapiro generally came off like Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic,” hanging off the bow of the big boat and boasting that he was on top of the world; for as long as Shapiro talked Six Flags up, everybody knew his ship was eventually gonna sink.
But since the sinking actually took place — with Six Flags’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in June and the wipeout of whatever was left of Snyder and Shapiro’s investment in the company via Red Zone LLC, a kitty once worth more than $120 million — Shapiro has been largely absent. (Six Flags stock traded today for between 11 and 12 cents a share, down from $11.93 shortly after Snyder’s takeover, and the company’s reorganization plan calls for the common shares to be declared officially worthless.)
Shapiro wrote an open letter to Six Flags employees telling them to stay the course, then, far as I can tell, disappeared from public view. Other company officials have made the public statements when Six Flags announced marketing deals with an automaker, a video game producer, a condiment and a mattress maker, and when opened a hair salon.
The loudest silence from Shapiro came yesterday, when the amusement chain, as it has every year since the Snyd-iro team’s been in place, declared that customers love Six Flags more now than they did under the previous management regime. The press release let somebody named “Mark Quenzel,” identified as “Six Flags Executive Vice President of Park Strategy and Management,” spew the phony great state of affairs the way Shapiro used to leading up to the company’s collapse.
There’s been no announcement from the company about a change in Shapiro’s status, and according to Six Flags’ headquarters in New York he’s still onboard as CEO and “active” in running the company.
But all these absences beg some questions: Is Shapiro taking the summer off? Is he taking care of business for his other bankrupt company?
Or has he jumped ship?