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Doublethink at Six Flags: CEO to get $3 million bonus if amusement park chain goes bankrupt

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Published: April 15, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Ah, the good stuff that can be found in SEC documents.

In the one linked above, we learned yesterday that Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro could get a $3 million bonus if the chain successfully renegotiates its crushing debt burden. Shapiro would get the bonus if Six Flags restructures the debt on its own, or if the debt is restructured as a result of filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

So if the chain goes bankrupt, and emerges from bankruptcy, Shapiro gets an extra $3 million, on top of his $1.3 million annual salary.

To be fair, the chain does have to emerge from bankruptcy for Shapiro to get the cash. If Six Flags goes belly up, no bonus. But still. While I think Shapiro deserves a hefty bonus if he can continue Six Flags' turnaround while staying out of bankruptcy court, it seems just wrong to me to be rewarding corporate executives for anything when their firms end up in bankruptcy.

Bloomberg also has some reaction to this so-called "success bonus."

Readers' Opinions

From Joshua Counsil on April 15, 2009 at 11:36 AM
What? Really?

I can understand rewarding him if he turns things around without resorting to bankruptcy, but come on. Giving him a bonus worth nearly 3x his annual salary for taking the easier route and relying on a bounce-back?

I'd like to have sat through the meeting where corporate made this decision. There must be some reasoning I'm not thinking of.

From Jacob Sundstrom on April 15, 2009 at 11:39 AM
You have to remember that this isn't Shapiro's debt, he inherited it from the previous ownership. And anyone who has been to a Six Flags park in the last year or so knows that he's been changing the parks beyond drastically. I believe that the economy put a full turn around out of his grasp, as it were, and I think that if he can get the company through this.. he deserves it!
From Chaz B on April 15, 2009 at 11:40 AM
This is why our country is in the condition it is in. We reward CEO's just for being the head of a company it doesn't matter if you fail you will get paid big bucks. That is a great lesson for anyone out there taking business.
From Anthony Murphy on April 15, 2009 at 1:00 PM
Hmmm, its a so so deal. While it is weird to get a bonus in this day and age, he still needs to show some results to get the bonus. Meaning, he still needs to do some work for his money.


I am actual suprised he gets so little money as the head of a major theme park company. I wonder what the execs at Disney, Busch, and Univesal make. I know 1.3 is alot, but in comparision to others?

From scott sorensen on April 15, 2009 at 4:54 PM
Hmmmm... so I wonder if I was to file for bankruptcy, if someone would reward me with $3 million. Sounds fair to me. Sign me up. :)
From Derek Potter on April 15, 2009 at 4:06 PM
I would think that it's in his best interest to not go the bankruptcy route. Yeah he'll get paid if he does it, but it also paints him as a guy who can't right the ship.

It is rather sad that a board would include a clause like that in the contract. The American way I guess.

From Joshua Counsil on April 16, 2009 at 3:19 AM
The North American way. Canada, like an admiring younger brother, follows closely in the States' footsteps.

This is just another addition to some of the recent stupidity of the theme park world. Ridiculous lawsuits, rewarding laziness, and unfair copyright infringement issues. What next?

From Tim W on April 16, 2009 at 6:30 AM
my biggest question and concern is what will happen to dc attractions if six flags would close. i like the parks and all but they kind of destroyed darien lake and put them in a huge rut making me kind of resentful to six flags. but im still wonderin about dc and if they will go to another theme park company if six flags was to close.
From 75.67.110.7 on April 19, 2009 at 6:29 PM
The guy was brought in to fix a company that was in ruins. Guess what? He's doing it in a freakin recession. He deserves all 3 million and more if he can keep that company out of bankruptcy. I congratulate him on a fine job he is doing. Give the guy a break. Without him, that company would have failed 3 years ago.

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