Fortress-backed Intrawest sells Canadian ski resort

Portfolio company Intrawest has sold the Panorama Mountain Village, one week after reports creditors were organising an auction of assets in February.

Intrawest, the ski resort company owned by Fortress Investment Group, is selling another asset at it tries to improve its debt position.
The company announced it had sold Panorama Mountain Village in Canada to a group of investors led by local developer Rick Jensen.
In the statement, the new owners said a “definitive asset purchase agreement” had been reached with Intrawest, which would see not only the Panorama ski slope sold but also a 50 percent stake in a neighbouring golf course, all of Intrawest's commercial operations and lodging units in Panorama Mountain Village and land available for real estate development. The transaction is anticipated to close in February 2010, pending regulatory approvals.

According to CBC News, the investor group paid Intrawest $27.5 million.
Intrawest is struggling with its debt load, with the firm's lenders last week revealing an auction of Intrawest's assets was being planned for February. A public notice to that effect was posted in the New York Times and Toronto's Globe and Mail. However, Intrawest spokesman Ian Galbraith told media outlets the auction notice was standard practice by lenders during refinancing discussions.

He told USA Today: “No foreclosure has happened“.

The possibility that Intrawest will sell its Whistler Blackcomb Mountain resort has caused an outcry because Whistler is the host resrort of the Winter Olympics, which starts in February, and the Winter Paralympic Games the following month.

Intrawest issued a statement on January 20 commenting on “inaccurate media reports” surrounding the auction.

The company said: ”Fortress Investment Group continues to own and control Intrawest and all of its properties. Serious discussions with Intrawest’s lenders are ongoing regarding refinancing and the company continues to operate ‘business as usual’ at all of its resort properties. Intrawest is looking forward to the success of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

However, the company has been selling resorts. In November last year, it sold Copper Mountain in Colorado. In August, Intrawest agreed to sell the lodging and commercial operations at Arc 1950 Resort in Savoie and the Flaine Montsoleil Resort in the Haute-Savoie region of the French Alps.

Fortress bought Intrawest in 2006 for $2.8 billion, including $1.7 billion of debt.