Intrawest sold to investment group |

Intrawest sold to investment group

Bob Berwyn
Kristin Skvorc /Summit DailyA look at the Village at Copper Mountain, which underwent extensive renovation under Intrawests ownership. Friday, the company announced it was being sold to an investment group that also operates an old-age community.

SUMMIT COUNTY The announced sale of Intrawest Corp. to a New York-based investment firm Friday elicited a wide range of reactions around the High Country. That was especially true at Copper Mountain Resort, where skier visits have grown under the Canadian companys ownership, but where some base-area businesses have languished in recent years.Some Copper residents have been unhappy with Intrawest management, and have butted heads with the company over development plans at the resort in recent years.Id say that many of the merchants in the community will be receptive to this news. said Linda Inserra, president of the board of directors for the Copper Mountain Chapel Foundation. Were hoping for continued progress in the negotiations for community amenities. It sounds like a new beginning to have some responsible growth in this community, Inserra said.

According to the Associated Press, Fortress Investment Group LLC will pay about $1.81 billion in cash for Intrawest, which also owns Winter Park and a string of other resorts around the country. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Fortress will also assume $992 million in debt. The deal still must be scrutinized by regulators and win approval from Intrawest shareholders. The sale could be finalized in October, according to AP.Fortress Investment Group manages about $23 billion in equity capital, including investments in Brookdale Living Communities Inc., an operator of senior independent living facilities, and Alterra Healthcare Corp., which has filed for bankruptcy protection. Fortress is also expanding its real estate investments in Europe, according to the companys German Web site.Intrawest share prices climbed 29 percent in early Friday trading after the announcement.

Man, thats a surprise, said Jerry Jones, an Avon-based ski industry insider. Everything I was hearing, Starwood Capital was the interested suitor, he said, referring to company that recently acquired a majority interest in Mammoth Mountain, California.Jones said hed been contacted recently by several investment bankers for information on both Intrawest and Vail Resorts. Rumors of sales are nothing new in the fluid resort industry, where one or another ski area always seems to be on the market.Jones said the impending sale appears to be a good deal for Intrawest stockholders, and that the transaction has significant implications for Colorado.Thats a pretty darn good return, he said. And Colorado is definitely impacted, with Winter Park in the start-up of development.Jones said its too early to say exactly what the sale might mean for operations real estate plans at Copper and Winter Park, but said that Intrawest has been a clear leader in resort development.Im sorry to see Intrawest gone. Theyre extremely smart. Theyve been innovative and progressive in this industry, he said, explaining that the Canadian company specialized in the model of building rentable condos that generated a profit for the company and a good return on investment for the buyers.Jones speculated that the sale could represent the next step in the evolution of the corporate-controlled ski industry.Weve gone from Mom and Pop, to companies like Ralston Purina, to big public IPOs, Jones said. Will it continue to be a publicly traded firm? Maybe the best thing these guys will do is break up the company and sell off the parts for a profit. Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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