Ousted Six Flags CEO draws hefty severance - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Ousted Six Flags CEO draws hefty severance

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The former head of theme-park giant Six Flags Inc. will receive a $9.3 million severance and bonus package following his ouster by the board earlier this week, the company disclosed in securities filings.

Former CEO Kieran Burke was removed by the board on Tuesday and replaced with former ESPN programming director Mark Shapiro following a contentious proxy battle for control of the Oklahoma City-based company.

Shapiro will earn a base salary of $1.05 million, which is comparable to Burke's annual base salary for 2005.

Chief Financial Officer James Dannhauser will stay with Six Flags through April, when he is eligible for a severance payment of at least $5.25 million, according to Friday's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Dannhauser's base salary is $788,000.

Six Flags will pay $7 million for Burke's severance, and he earned $2.3 million in bonuses under a formula spelled out in his 2003 employment agreement.

Burke also received 240,000 share options and a grant of 80,000 shares. As part of his severance agreement, Dannhauser will receive 75,000 stock options and 25,000 shares.

Both Burke and Dannhauser are based in Six Flags' New York offices.

Industry consultant Dennis Speigel said it made sense for Six Flags to keep Dannhauser on for a few more months, since he had the most knowledge about the company's financial statements.

``You hate to see anyone leave a company with the kind of performance they've had with that kind of money, but so be it,'' said Speigel, president of Ohio-based International Theme Park Services.

``A roller coaster costs about $25 million now, so it's probably money very well spent.''

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, whose Red Zone LLC owns 11.7 percent of Six Flags shares, launched a proxy fight in August to unseat Burke, Dannhauser and Stanley Shuman from the Six Flags board.

A majority of Six Flags' shareholders backed Snyder's changes, and he became chairman of the board Nov. 30.

Investors traded Six Flags shares in heavy volume Friday, with almost 7.5 million shares changing hands. The stock, which closed up 3 cents to $7.25, normally averages 1.25 million shares in daily trading.
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