Whistler Blackcomb to go for $14 to $15 a share, says investor 

Sellers looking to sell resort for about $300 million

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Want a piece of Whistler Blackcomb? Soon you may be able to pick it up for $14 to $15 a share on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

In a preliminary prospectus filed with the TSX on Oct. 8, a group of underwriters including CIBC World Markets, RBC Dominion Securities, BMO Nesbitt Burns, TD Securities Inc. and Goldman Sachs Canada Inc. puts a major stake in Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. up for sale to the public.

The prospectus doesn't include a proposed share price or what stake in a new company - Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc - will be up for sale. However, Pat Kelly, a Whistler investor and head of the Whistler Real Estate Company, said he got a call from his stock broker who told him the price for the initial public offering (IPO) is going to be set at $14 to $15 a share, with a six to seven per cent yield on the dividend.

That means dividends could make investors anywhere from $0.84 to $1.05 for every share they own.

Once the underwriters, led by CIBC World Markets, take Whistler Blackcomb around on a "dog-and-pony show" to various investors, the company will be made available for public investment, according to Kelly.

Asked how he feels about Whistler Blackcomb going public, he said he's not surprised. He believes the point of the exercise is to help pay down the debts of the parent company, Fortress Investment Group.

"It's not surprising personally," he said. "I'm not surprised they would take their primary asset and try to pay their debts down. It would be more interesting if that money was going to be reinvested back into Whistler and the mountains.

"It's being used to pay down Intrawest and Fortress's debts, it's not going to be going back into lift operations or more capital infrastructure."

In total, 37 million shares are being made available for purchase, according to Kelly, with 21 million going to the public and outside institutions. Intrawest and Nippon Cable, which appears to have increased its stake in Whistler Blackcomb from 23 to 25 per cent, will own the remaining shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings.

The new company was registered Oct. 4. Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen is chair of the board of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings. Other board members include Wes Edens, principal of Fortress Investment Group LLC; John Furlong, formerly chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; and Cam Neely, a former hockey player and now president of the Boston Bruins Hockey Club.

The latter two have likely been appointed to the board in order to bring credibility to the board of directors, Kelly said.

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