Intrawest reaches agreement to sell Copper Mountain 

Parent company of Whistler Blackcomb continues to search for ways to deal with debt

 

Intrawest has agreed to sell its interests in Copper Mountain, Colorado, to Utah based Powdr Corporation.

Rumours of a possible sale of Copper Mountain have been circulating since last spring.

At the root of the rumours was the need for Fortress Investment Group LLC, Intrawest's parent company, to get rid of some of its debt. Fortress bought Intrawest in October 2006 for a reported $1.8 billion, assuming $950 million of Vancouver-based Intrawest's debt.

The New York based public hedge fund and private equity firm, Fortress, has taken an economic beating in the past year. The company came close to a last-minute deadline before reaching a one-year deal to refinance $1.7 billion in debt last October.

Bloomberg reported last month that Fortress told investors Intrawest - one of 10 companies in its $2.5 billion Fund IV - was listed at 29 per cent of the price it paid for the company.

"Intrawest remains our most challenging Fund IV investment," Fortress stated in a letter obtained by Bloomberg and dated Aug. 27. "The ongoing deterioration of the global economy combined with poor early season weather conditions at the company's most profitable resort resulted in a difficult 2008-2009 ski season."

Last spring Bill Jensen, Intrawest CEO, said the company was looking at every option to deal with the global economic challenges, which were having such an impact on the company.

However, he told Colorado's Summitt Daily News at that time: "Copper is not one we want to sell.

"There are some assets that are core to our business... But we're exploring all the options."

Intrawest also recently sold two of its resorts in France to French company Pierre et Vacances.

The Copper Mountain transaction is expected to close in December and the agreement is subject to regulatory approvals, including the issuance of a U.S. Forest Service special-use permit to Powdr Corp.

Both Intrawest and Powdr Corp say they will honour all passes and products in place for this season.

Until the deal is closed in late December Intrawest spokesman Ian Galbraith said no further details can be released.

Powdr Corp is one of the leading mountain resort owners and operators in the United States. It currently owns and operates seven ski and snowboard resorts including Park City Mountain Resort, Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, the Killington and Pico resorts in Vermont, Boreal and Soda Springs resorts in California and Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort in Nevada.

Intrawest acquired Copper from a Delaware investment group in 1996.

 

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