Six Flags faces a rough ride in Asia

December 30, 2019, 12:48 AM · Six Flags' cash cow might have just run out of milk. The amusement park's Chinese development partner appears to be in trouble, which could mean the end of much of the international licensing income for the chain.

Trading has been halted on Riverside Investment Group's stock, according to a Chinese news report. The developer posted a statement to its website earlier this month noting a depressed real estate market and suggesting layoffs across the firm.

A few additional notes here: The company's name translates to "Shanshui Wenyuan Group" if you use the Google Translate tool on the previous link. The December statement does not appear on the company's English-language website, only on the original Chinese version. You can find a good summary of both posts, along with recent construction photos from the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor project in Zhejiang, on Stefan Zwanzger's themeparx.com.

Six Flags earlier this year lost its Dubai project when partner Dubai Parks & Resorts pulled out, following disappointing attendance at its other three parks. Riverside had planned up to 11 parks in China, using various Six Flags brands, including several new park concepts.

If Riverside's financial problems sink the Chinese parks, that would leave Six Flags only with its Six Flags Qiddiya project for international licensing revenue. That development launched earlier this year with a splashy announcement that included an audacious coaster named Falcon's Flight, promised to be the world's longest, tallest, and fastest roller coaster. But skeptical fans questioned whether the released concept video actually obeyed the laws of physics.

Six Flags' most recent quarterly financial report noted a decrease in international sponsorship fees. Six Flags' choice for its new leader might reflect a desire to shore up its international business, as Jim Reid-Anderson's replacement as Six Flags President and CEO is Mike Spanos, a former PepsiCo executive who once oversaw the soft drink giant's operations in China.

As always, stay tuned.

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