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Paul Morrison/(c) Whistler Blackcomb 2007 All rights reserved

The future of Intrawest should become clearer on Thursday, as private equity fund parent Fortress Investment Group LLC rolls out financial results.

Intrawest, owner of the Whistler Blackcomb slopes that are hosting Olympic skiing events, is in restructuring talks with creditors. There's considerable drama to this dance, as the resort operator is scheduled to be auctioned off on Friday in New York, a sale that's already been postponed once. Lenders are pushing for the sale as part of their bare-knuckle negotiations with Fortress, which bought Intrawest in 2006, and defaulted on $1.4-billion (U.S.) of loans in December.

While an auction is possible, it's unlikely. This is an example of brinksmanship at private equity holding that just happens to be featured each day on millions of TV sets.

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The more probable outcome is that Fortress helps recapitalize Intrawest by investing additional funds in the company, and more properties get sold.

Fortress may have to add another $150-million to the pot to appease lenders, according to reporting recently by Boomberg.

If more properties do get sold, Fortress faces tough choices. There are a number of bidders for Whistler, yet this jewelof a resort is the asset that Fortress is said to be least likely to sell.

Vail Resorts Inc. in Colorado is among several rivals that have pitched bids for Whistler, but all offers have been rebuffed by Fortress, according to financial industry sources.

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About the Author
Business Columnist

Andrew Willis is a business columnist for the Report on Business at The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto.He has been in business communications and journalism for three decades. More

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