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Published: Tuesday, 1/11/2011

Cedar Fair shareholders vote to split CEO, chairman posts

HURON, Ohio -- Led by the biggest shareholder, Cedar Fair LP stockholders voted Tuesday to require the chief executive and chairman positions be held by different people, and may have passed a second measure putting paying dividends ahead of retiring company debt.

It was a blow to the Sandusky amusement park management and board who had opposed both issues. Company officials announced during the 17-minute meeting at a Bowling Green State University Firelands campus auditorium that the CEO/chairmanship issue passed and the dividend/debt issue was "too close to call."

Final results might not be available for a several days, as an independent auditor tabulates the voting of the firm's 55 million shares, company officials said.

About 200 shareholders attended, including a representative of Q Investments, which owns 18 percent of Cedar Fair's stock. Shareholders asked questions of company leaders after the meeting was over, and some were contentious.

Cedar Fair's board is meeting Tuesday to discuss the vote results, but it wasn't clear whether a decision would be made immediately. The shareholder-passed resolutions are not binding on the board, which would have to decide whether to implement them.

It was not expected, however, that CEO and Chairman Dick Kinzel would step down as chairman. He has said he plans to retire in January, 2012.

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