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Intrawest asset sales continue Add to ...

It's looking more and more likely that Intrawest ULC will avoid an embarrassing foreclosure auction right in the middle of the Olympics, which take place in large part at the company's flagship Whistler resort.

The company's garage sale of assets to raise money to pay down debt and avoid a foreclosure by its lenders continues, with golf resort Sandestin the latest to go. The buyer is the Becnel family of Florida.

The threat of foreclosure from the banks was widely viewed as a pressure tactic from the lenders after they grew impatient with what they viewed as the unwillingness of Intrawest and its owner, Fortress Investment Group to face the tough decisions that had to be made. And it's working.

The sale comes about a week after Intrawest found a buyer for the village at the Squaw Valley ski hill in California, and about two weeks after the company sold its Panorama ski resort in British Columbia. There are no terms disclosed for the sales, but the tally has to be getting up there.

Intrawest has been saddled with a big debt ever since it was taken over by Fortress Investment Group at the height of the real estate boom. Fortress used borrowing to pay for the takeover, and pledge most of the real estate in Intrawest as security.

Intrawest spokesman Ian Galbraith said the sales have been in the works for a long time and relate to the company's long-term strategy of focusing on a core set of four-season destination resorts, such as Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia and Mont Tremblant in Quebec.

The lenders, impatient with Fortress and Intrawest and their inability to pay down debt, recently initiated foreclosure proceedings on Intrawest and set an auction date for mid-February.

Unless the companies can raise enough cash to satisfy the lenders, the banks have threatened to seize the company's remaining equity and auction it

The Becnel family develops and operates resorts, luxury condominiums, town homes and villas in Destin, Fla. The group is a family-run business led by Tom and Damon Becnel, who have previously developed Silver Shells Resort, the Palms of Destin and One Beach Club Drive in Sandestin, Fla.

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