Fortress reports big fourth quarter gains 

New York-based hedge fund reduced to quarter-ownership of Whistler Blackcomb through Intrawest

Fortress Investment Group reported big gains in the same quarter that it divested itself of much of its ownership of Whistler Blackcomb.

The New York-based hedge fund, which maintains an approximately 24 per cent stake in Whistler Blackcomb through its ownership of Intrawest, released its fourth quarter statements on Thursday and they suggest a company on the upswing.

"Our fourth quarter and full year results were very solid, and reflect broad momentum that has carried into 2011," Daniel Mudd, Fortress's chief executive officer, said in the news release.

"Our funds continued to deliver strong returns, capital raising increased apace, and we have attracted a significant number of new investors to Fortress."

In a news release attached to its financial results, the company states that its assets under management were valued at $44.6 billion as of December 31, 2010, up 42 per cent from December 2009 totals of $31.5 billion.

The company also reported pre-tax distributable earnings of $372 million, up from $126 million in 2009, as well as a pre-tax dividend of $0.72 per paying share. That figure represented the biggest gain in Fortress's news release, up 177 per cent from a dividend of $0.26 per paying share.

These returns came out of the same period in which Fortress, through Intrawest, put much of its stake in Whistler Blackcomb up for sale in a public offering. For months it sought a buyer to help the company pay off a total $1.5 billion in debt that it took on to buy Intrawest to start with but it allegedly didn't get much interest from the people who were approached.

Fortress and Intrawest later resorted to taking the company public, filing an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on October 8 that was underwritten by all of Canada's major banks including CIBC World Markets and RBC Dominion Securities.

The IPO netted the company about $300 million after selling 25,000,000 common shares at $12 each. The shares were initially floated at $14 to $15 each but didn't get much uptake from investors at that value.




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