Fortress buys Intrawest for $2.8bn

The New York-based firm will acquire the publicly traded owner of ski resort Whistler Blackcomb, a host for the 2010 Olympics.

New York-based alternative investment firm Fortress Investment Group has agreed to buy Intrawest Corp., a Canadian travel and resort company that owns prominent Vancouver ski venue Whistler Blackcomb, for $2.8 billion (€2.2 billion) including debt.

Fortress will acquire Intrawest for $35 a share in cash, paying a 30 percent premium over the closing price prior to the announcement of the offer.
“Fortress has a disciplined strategy of acquiring asset-based businesses with high quality platforms and Intrawest is truly unique in this regard,” Wesley Edens, a principal in Fortress and the chairman of its management committee, said in a statement. “We have a great opportunity to continue Intrawest’s evolution into a leading global leisure player.”

In addition to Whistler Blackcomb, which will be among the host venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Intrawest owns nine other ski resorts in North America, including Vermont’s Stratton Mountain, Colorado’s Winter Park and Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant. The company also operates the world’s largest heli-skiing outfit, Canadian Mountain Holidays, a private resort club called Club Intrawest and Florida’s Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

In February, Intrawest announced that it was considering putting itself up for sale. At least two-thirds of Intrawest’s shareholders must approve the deal, which is also subject to regulatory approval. Shareholders are expected to meet in October.

Goldman Sachs & Co. and McCarthy Tetrault advised Intrawest, while Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom and Good LLP, Goodmans LLP and Lehman Brothers Inc. advised Fortress.

Fortress was founded in 1998 and manages approximately $10 billion in private equity capital.