Would-be Steamboat buyers angry
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS<Tim Mueller says he wants to meet with his attorneys before formally responding to American Skiing Company1s decision Tuesday to back out of its plan to sell the Steamboat Ski Area.Mueller and his wife, Diane, led a group of investors known as Triple Peaks LLC, which had contracted to purchase Steamboat for $91.4 million.To begin closing the deal, Mueller traveled this week to New York, where he was informed by American Ski Company officials that they would instead sell Heavenly Ski Resort to Vail Resorts. As a result, American changed its mind about Steamboat and now intends to retain ownership of the ski area.Mueller characterized American1s change of plans as 3outrageous, saying he1d been kept in the dark about the developing deal with Vail even as he cooperated with their request to delay the closing.3We are surprised and disappointed by this action, Mueller said. 3Contrary to some reports, we have been ready, willing and able to close this transaction for some time. We had accommodated ASC1s request for a temporary postponement, never having an inkling that they were going to breach our agreement. We are presently exploring with our attorneys the best course of action, before formally responding to this outrageous turn of events.Six days before abandoning the Steamboat deal, American executives had formally told their investors and stock analysts they intended to close the Steamboat deal within 30 days. Mueller responded by saying he expected the sale to close much sooner. It1s now clear he was referring to his travel plans for the following week.Pam Cruickshank, a spokesman for the Muellers1 Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, said the word 3disappointing doesn1t begin to describe the family1s emotions in the wake of the deal falling apart. She said the mood in the administrative offices at Okemo on Wednesday was somber because management personnel there had been looking forward to networking with their counterparts in Steamboat.Just the same, Cruickshank said, the Muellers intend to follow through on plans to spend Easter weekend in Steamboat Springs.Diane Mueller said she believes the demise of the Steamboat sale will have a negative impact on both Ludlow, Vt., and Steamboat springs.3We were looking forward to working with the employees and the community at Steamboat to fulfill its vast potential, Diane Mueller said. 3To have this thrown at us at this time is devastating to us, our employees and the communities involved.Tom Ross is a staff reporter for the Steamboat Pilot.