Vail Resorts drops Arthur Andersen |

Vail Resorts drops Arthur Andersen

Cliff Thompson

The ski and hospitality company last week replaced Andersen with Price Waterhouse.

Andersen, the Chicago-based accounting and auditing giant, was charged in March by a Houston grand jury with obstructing justice. Andersen’s employees allegedly shredded tons of energy giant Enron’s documents just prior to a Justice Department investigation of the failed energy company.

The accounting for Enron, the Justice Department contends, hid an enormous amount of debt from investors while at the same time showed a glowing balance sheet. Andersen compromised its accounting integrity, company officials admit, by accepting lucrative consulting contracts from the firm it was auditing.

While Vail Resorts has refrained from commenting on changing auditors, in an earlier article about using Andersen, its CEO Adam Aron said Andersen’s Denver office had shown “the highest degree of integrity.”

Aron also said Vail Resorts has not used Andersen for any outside consulting.

Fallout from the Enron scandal, resulting in loss of clients and an indictment of Andersen by the Justice Department, had put Andersen’s survival in jeopardy, an Andersen spokesman said.

Vail Resorts is publicly traded (NYSE-MTN). Last year the company reported its most profitable year since it began public trading, with $118 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, on total revenues of $559 million.

Earlier this month the company closed on its purchase of Tahoe’s Heavenly Ski Resort for approximately $102 million. The company also owns and operates Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek resorts in Colorado, as well as Grand Teton Lodge in Wyoming and Rock Resorts and Ranch Mirage Hotels.

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