Six Flags names new CEO as theme park attendance bounces back

Six Flags' non-executive board chairman Selim Bassoul will replace president and CEO Michael Spanos, who is stepping down after two years of service

Six Flags has appointed the company's non-executive chairman of the board, Selim Bassoul, to serve as its new president and chief executive officer.

Bassoul, who has served as a Six Flags board director since February 2020 and the theme park operator's non-executive chairperson since February 2021, is replacing president and CEO Michael Spanos, who is stepping down from the roles effective immediately.

Bassoul will continue to serve as a Six Flags board member while independent director and former Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza has been elected as the company's new non-executive chairman of the board. 

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Prior to joining Six Flags, the 64-year-old served as chairman, president and CEO of Middleby Corporation, a global manufacturer of industrial and high-end residential appliances, where he helped grow the company's revenue from $100 million to $2.7 billion, adjusted operating income from $12 million to $535 million, and market capitalization from $100 million to more than $6 billion. Bassoul has also previously served on the boards of Confluence Outdoor, Piper Aircraft, Inc., and Scientific Protein Laboratories LLC.

"I am honored to serve as the next CEO of Six Flags, and I am excited to bring the magic back to our parks. We are a company led by a purpose–to make a positive and meaningful impact on everyone Six Flags touches," Bassoul said in a statement. "I will do my best to enable our people to fulfill their passion to make a difference, and to harness their creativity to build on a shared vision for guest satisfaction and financial growth. I am passionate about empowering employees and serving our customers, and together with our team, I know we can set up Six Flags for a new level of success in the months and years ahead."

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Under his employment agreement, Bassoul will receive an annualized base salary of $1.55 million and, beginning in fiscal year 2022, a target annual bonus opportunity of 150% of his base salary, with payment ranging between 0% to 300% of the salary subject to the attainment of certain performance goals. For fiscal year 2021, Bassoul's bonus will be determined by the board. He is also entitled to receive a relocation allowance of up to $165,000. 

In addition, Bassoul will purchase an aggregate of $10 million worth of Six Flags' common stock and be awarded 246,426 restricted stock units, which will vest in full on the third anniversary of the grant date or on earlier termination of his employment for good reason or due to death or disability, and up to 1.2 million performance stock units, with performance determined over a three-year period based on guest satisfaction and ESG achievement metrics as well as adjusted EBITDA ranging between $560 million and $710 million for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 calendar years. 

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Spanos, who departs the roles after two years of service, has helped navigate Six Flags through the COVID-19 pandemic, including overseeing the theme parks' reopening which began in June 2020. In its third quarter for fiscal year 2021, Six Flags reported that park attendance was at 92% of 2019 levels.  

"As we indicated on our earnings call on Oct. 27, our fourth quarter attendance trends have accelerated compared to the third quarter, and we look forward to building on that momentum into 2022 and beyond," Baldanzo said. 

Photo taken on June 20, 2020 shows a roller coaster at the reopened Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Texas. The famous Six Flags Fiesta Texas reopened to public on June 19. (Photo by Lie Ma/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

A Six Flags spokesperson did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment on the reason for Spanos' departure. 

Spanos is entitled to receive payment of a pro rata portion of his 2021 annual bonus, payment of one year's base salary and target bonus within 60 days of Nov. 14 and the accelerated vesting of certain outstanding unvested equity awards.