Winter Park Resort operations and Intrawest sold to private firms in $1.5 billion deal | SkyHiNews.com
Lance Maggart lmaggart@skyhinews.com

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Winter Park Resort operations and Intrawest sold to private firms in $1.5 billion deal

A skier rides down the Mary Jane Trail in the Mary Jane Territory at Winter Park Resort in this file photo.

Winter Park Ski Resort will soon have a new entity listed as the Resort’s operator.

Early this week officials from Intrawest Resort Holdings Inc., the operators of Winter Park Resort and owners of Steamboat Springs and a collection of other ski resorts in Canada and the eastern US, announced they have entered, "into a definitive agreement to be acquired by" Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners, a Denver based private equity firm. The announcement, made Monday April 10, lists the sale price for the behemoth resort property conglomerate at $1.5 billion, including debt.

Under the sale Aspen Skiing and KSL Partners will take control of Intrawest's various holdings including operation of Winter Park Resort and ownership of Steamboat Springs along with Mont Tremblant Ski Resort in Quebec, Stratton Mountain Ski Area in Vermont, Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia, and Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario. The agreement effectively makes Intrawest and the resorts it controls privately owned entities, as opposed to a publicly traded company.

Winter Park Resort’s Director of Public Relations and Communications stated the Resort does not, “expect any major changes to the day-to-day operation of Winter Park Resort.” Hurlbert referred to Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Partners as, “proven entities within the ski industry”. Hurlbert pointed out both Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL are Colorado based firms. “We’re excited about what the future holds,” Hurlbert stated.

Per the agreement Aspen Skiing and KSL Partners have agreed to pay Intrawest stockholders $23.75 per share. According to a press release from Intrawest that figure represents a 40 percent premium above the $16.97 per share price at which Intrawest's stock was listed at market close on Jan. 12, 2017; one day prior to a Reuters' report speculating Intrawest was exploring a potential sale.

The press release from Intrawest states the Intrawest Board of Directors approved the sale unanimously and stockholders representing a majority of voting shares within the company have delivered written consent for the agreement. Officials from Intrawest state they expect the transaction to be finalized by the end of the third quarter of this year.

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"This transaction creates significant opportunity for Intrawest and delivers tremendous value to our current shareholders," said Thomas Marano, Intrawest's chief executive officer. "We are excited to work with Aspen and KSL. Our new partners bring additional financial resources and a shared passion for the mountains and our mountain communities. Both Aspen and KSL are committed to helping Intrawest accelerate our plans to bring more value to our guests, more opportunities for our employees and more investment into our local communities."

The sale will not impact the price or use of season passes, or the various Rocky Mountain Super Pass options, for the 2017/2018 ski season. "Each Intrawest resort will continue to honor the resort's existing pass products that are currently on sale," states the press release from Intrawest.

Previously the largest resort operator on the continent Intrawest dominated the North American resort landscape throughout the late 1990s and early aughts. Private equity firm Fortress Investment Group acquired Intrawest for $2.8 billion in 2006. Beginning in 2009 and continuing in 2010 Intrawest began selling off properties to cover debt payments. Copper Mountain was sold along with Les Arcs in France and several other properties in the United States. Intrawest previously owned Whistler-Blackcomb but sold most of their stake in what is North America's largest ski resort in 2010.

Winter Park Resort is owned by the City of Denver and according to officials from the Resort that dynamic will not change under the new agreement. The agreement allowing Intrawest to operate the municipally owned ski resort was first inked in 1998.