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Published: Monday, 1/24/2011

Cedar Fair names new chairman, splits post from CEO


SANDUSKY — Cedar Fair LP, after a prolonged battle with its largest shareholder, announced Monday that it has stripped Chief Executive Dick Kinzel of his chairman position and named C. Thomas Harvie as its new non-executive chairman.

The appointment, the Sandusky amusement park company said, was effective immediately.

Mr. Kinzel has voluntarily relinquished his chairman position in response to a vote this month by shareholders to split the firm's CEO and chairman positions, the company said. That proposal was proposed by Texas mutual funds Q Investments, who own 18 percent of Cedar Fair's stock, and it was opposed by the company's board. It passed with 54 percent of the vote.

Mr. Kinzel, who plans to retire Jan. 3, 2012, will remain as company CEO and president.

Mr. Harvie, who has served as an independent director of Cedar Fair since 2008, chairs the corporate governance committee and the CEO succession planning committee. Most recently, he was a senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

“We believe today's actions will help ensure a smooth and seamless leadership transition for Cedar Fair as it enters a new era of growth and sustained value creation for its unitholders,” Mr. Harvie said in a statement.

The appointment of the non-executive, independent chairman will be reviewed “on a periodic basis,” the company said.

It also said a second proposal brought by Q Investments, to make paying a shareholder dividend a higher priority than paying off debt, did not pass. It was called “too close to call” for a few weeks, but an independent firm determined the results. Q Investments said last week that it looked like the vote had more than 49 percent of the vote and urged Cedar Fair's board to enact it.

Cedar Fair said Monday it would review its dividend policy in the first three months of this year, after its 2010 earnings are released.

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