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The Vancouver Olympics Just Dodged a Bullet

post #1 of 4
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Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Fortress Investment Group LLC, whose ski-resort operator Intrawest ULC owns Olympic Alpine skiing venue Whistler Blackcomb, won an extension from creditors of a foreclosure auction that had been scheduled for tomorrow, said a person with knowledge of the agreement.

Creditors agreed to extend the deadline until Feb. 26, said the person, who declined to be identified because terms are private. The lender-appointed administrative agent, Wilmington Trust FSB, had scheduled an auction for Feb. 19 that would have included stakes in Whistler Blackcomb, Mont Tremblant in Quebec and Stratton Mountain in Vermont.

The postponement avoids an auction in the middle of the Olympic Games of the resort where Lindsey Vonn won the downhill gold medal yesterday. The lenders, which include Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the investment bank liquidating in bankruptcy, have sought control of Intrawest since it missed a final payment in December on a $1.4 billion loan.

Lilly Donohue, a spokeswoman for New York-based Fortress, declined to comment.

Intrawest, founded in 1976, runs ski and golf resorts in Canada and the U.S. It sells vacation timeshares through its Club Intrawest unit and owns Canadian Mountain Holidays, the world’s largest heli-skiing operation, according to its Web site. Heli-skiing runs are reached via helicopters rather than ski lifts.


Fortress agreed to buy Intrawest in August 2006. Investors in the firm’s Fund IV, Fund IV Co and FICO funds saw their collective $1.7 billion equity stake in Intrawest shrink to 4 cents on the dollar as of Oct. 31.

Two of the funds kicked in an additional $345 million in October 2008 to keep lenders at bay and infuse cash into the company, which has struggled under a debt load despite layoffs and other expense cuts, according to a June 2009 investor update Fortress sent to clients.

Fortress bought the company in part for its real estate, said Hayley Wolff, an analyst at Rochdale Securities LLC, a Stamford, Connecticut-based brokerage.

“Intrawest has a lot of real estate at the base of its mountains, with several projects having been in development at the time of acquisition, and much of it properly zoned to build out condos,” Wolff said in an interview. “In a good real estate market that had a lot value but in a bad times it’s an albatross.”

Intrawest has been selling some of its smaller resorts to pay down debt. Those sales, including Panorama Mountain Village and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, will raise about $65 million, according to the person. Intrawest agreed in November to sell its interest in Copper Mountain for about $100 million to Powdr Corp. of Park City, Utah.

post #2 of 4
It's not like they would kick the Olympics off of the mountain.
post #3 of 4
They cant..... VANOC through contracts signed ages ago actually control and operate the olympic areas.....  WB and Intrawest cannot touch the place!
post #4 of 4
Its not like Bankruptcy and auctions would seriously impact operations either way. It will either result in re-organization, or a new owner. Its not like the new owner would buy whistler just to close it...
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