Feb 2010 5

Olympic Resort Owner Sells to Secure

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Intrawest ULC, the debt-laden owner of key Olympic site Whistler-Blackcomb, is selling off more properties in order to focus on its bigger venues in Canada.

In an announcment this week it was revealed that Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe in California, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, has been sold for an undisclosed sum.

This follows last week’s news that the company had offloaded Panorama Mountain Village ski resort, near Invermere, B.C. Both resorts had commercial and on-mountain operations, but they were not "core assets" because of their size, said an Intrawest spokesman.

Intrawest says it wants to focus on essential assets where it owns both the on-mountain resort and the commercial village.

"Our focus is on core resorts moving forward, ones that are larger resorts like Whistler-Blackcomb, Tremblant [in Quebec], and Blue Mountain [in Ontario]," the spokesman added.

This is the third sale of Intrawest assets in less than three months. In November, the company sold its interest in Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado.  

Intrawest was bought in 2006 by New York-based private equity and hedge fund Fortress Investment Group LLC, which paid $2.8 billion US, including the assumption of debt. About half of the purchase price was paid with borrowed money, which Fortress has had trouble repaying.

In December, after a two-month extension, the fund defaulted on its final payment, leading lenders to announce that they would auction off equity in Intrawest - understood to mean Intrawest shares the lenders hold as security - on Feb. 19, in the middle of the Vancouver Winter Games.

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