Letters to the editor 

Whistler’s spirit shows

Page 6 of 7

But, "With the stock just above a dollar it’s just mean to pick on Edens anymore. So even though he doesn't do anything to merit a reprieve" Cramer is removing him from the Wall of Shame. "Call it euthanasia."

With Fortress stock now a penny stock at 98 cents it brings its loss this year to more than 92.4 per cent. Public shareholders and Nomura Securities have seen their investment 20 months ago fall from $1.5 billion to $108 million.

And because nearly all of the proceeds of the public issue went to the five selling principals, including Edens, Fortress was not left with much of a cushion to deal with the mess their currently contending with, such as: Half of their shareholders in their largest hedge fund gave notice they wanted out of their units, but in response Fortress halted redemptions.

Many of the larger companies Fortress has an interest in are in trouble, such as Gatehouse Media which is trading at 5 cents (their masthead slogan is "it's all about you").

They also have major positions in sub-prime mortgages, a mortgage fund, a sub prime mortgage company and a German real estate company, all troubled.

The property market of Intrawest continues to dive (France, American ski resorts and Hawaii, interestingly headed up by Whistler's previous mayor, Hugh O’Reilly) while poor snow throughout the West will do nothing to improve things.

Even Vanity Fair weighed in this month. "Would... Citadel be the first hedge fund to go? Or Fortress — whose clients are trying to redeem $4.5 billion."

How can this Apocalypse affect us in Whistler? Hopefully Fortress will sell off Whistler Blackcomb, in order to raise cash, to a corporation with an Olympic bent such as Nike, or even better, another resort operator such as Vail.

The larger problem is in Vancouver where Fortress is halfway through providing the $750 million construction loan for the Olympic village. With cost over-runs of 7 per cent, the developer rumoured to be in a weak position and the condo market dropping like a stone, the city might find itself on the hook for a billion dollar development which at best is just one-third sold at the moment. Shades of Montreal's Big Owe.

I think it would be timely for VANOC to run an Olympic Debt Clock for both Whistler and Vancouver, alongside the Games' Countdown Clock.

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