Intrawest, owner of Winter Park Resort, refinances $1.7 billion in debt just in time |

Intrawest, owner of Winter Park Resort, refinances $1.7 billion in debt just in time

Grand County, Colorado

Recent concerns about the financial health of Intrawest partially evaporated Thursday, as the company announced that it successfully refinanced a $1.7 billion loan that helped pay for the 2006 acquisition of Intrawest by Fortress Investment Group.

Intrawest owns Colorado resorts Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Steamboat, along with several other resorts in North America.

New York-based Fortress manages private equity, hedge funds and real estate-related investments. Fortress bought Intrawest for $2.8 billion, including the $1.7 billion loan that was due for repayment Oct. 23.

Lehman Brothers, which ceased to exist during the recent financial crisis on Wall Street, was one of the companies involved in the original financing of the Intrawest loan.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with our lenders, particularly given the challenges of the global credit markets,” said Bill Jensen, chief executive officer at Intrawest, in a prepared statement.

“The support Fortress and our lenders have shown underscores their confidence in Intrawest and will enable us to continue to execute on our long-term strategic plans,” the statement added.

The last-minute deal could help ease concerns that investors were reluctant to put their money in a company dependent on real estate development and sales and leisure travel.

Weakness in the global economy is expected to put a dent in the travel business this winter, as advance reservations have already taken a hit.

The real estate market has also sagged in the face of a credit crunch and declining consumer confidence.

Higher costs?

Intrawest didn’t release details of the new financing, but the terms of a new loan could be more costly in today’s credit market, according to Jackson Turner, who tracks Fortress for New York-based Argus Research.

“They’re going to have higher debt costs. That will take more dollars out of a shrinking pie,” Turner said before the deal was announced.

Paying more to service the debt would leave less money available for other expenditures, he said. Depending on the terms of the deal, there could be some cutbacks in store, he added.

Fortress officials did not return calls on Thursday.

According to the New York Post, Fortress’ stock value has dropped 80 percent this year. The stock has been downgraded by several analysts in the last few days.

” Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996 or

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