Aspen acquires Stratton parent for $1.5 billion

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Aspen acquires Stratton parent for $1.5 billion

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 3:31pm -- tim

Stratton image by Hubert Schriebl courtesy of Stratton Mountain Resort.

Vermont Business Magazine The other snowshoe has dropped in a flurry of ski area mergers and acquisitions that seeks to merge operations in the East and West. Aspen Skiing Company, LLC announced today that it and an equity partner are buying Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc (NYSE: SNOW), which owns iconic southern Vermont resort Stratton Mountain and northern neighbor Mont Tremblant in Quebec, in a deal valued at $1.5 billion. Already this ski season, Aspen has cut a deal with Sugarbush Vermont on sharing ski passes, while its Colorado rival Vail bought the skiing operations of Stowe Mountain Resort for $50 million. 

Before Vail announced the Stowe deal, rumors swirled that it was interested in Stratton as a gateway to the Northeast. The western resorts are hoping to gain access to the more than 70 million people living in the Northeast.

Intrawest has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by a newly-formed entity controlled by affiliates of the Aspen Skiing Company and private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, LLC. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Intrawest stockholders will receive $23.75 in cash for each share of Intrawest common stock, representing a total valuation of approximately $1.5 billion, including debt obligations to be assumed or refinanced net of cash at closing. The transaction was unanimously approved by the board of directors of Intrawest.

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KSL is Aspen's partner in Snowmass Base Village and also owns Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. Together, they are forming a new entity to acquire these resorts. Intrawest, headquartered in Denver, owns Steamboat and operates Winter Park in Colorado. Along with Stratton and Mont Tremblant, the company also has several other resorts in the East, including Snowshoe, WV, and Blue Mountain, Ontario, as well as Canadian Mountain Holidays, British Columbia, and the management of several condominium hotel properties.

Following the execution of the merger agreement, stockholders representing a majority of the voting shares of Intrawest delivered a written consent approving and adopting the merger agreement. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of calendar year 2017 and is subject to certain closing conditions including regulatory approvals.

Stratton Village night by Hubert Schriebl.

“This transaction creates significant opportunity for Intrawest and delivers tremendous value to our current shareholders,” said Thomas Marano, Intrawest’s chief executive officer. “The cash consideration of $23.75 per share represents a 40% premium over $16.97 per share, Intrawest’s closing stock price on January 12, 2017, the trading day prior to Reuters’ report speculating that the Company was exploring a potential sale. We are excited to work with Aspen and KSL. Our new partners bring additional financial resources and a shared passion for the mountains and our mountain communities. Both Aspen and KSL are committed to helping Intrawest accelerate our plans to bring more value to our guests, more opportunities for our employees and more investment into our local communities.”

“Intrawest is a collection of remarkable properties in exceptional locations. Each has its own unique story and its own unique sense of place,” said Eric Resnick, chief executive officer of KSL. “We are committed to honoring the deep traditions of each resort, while working with Intrawest’s talented management team and employees to continue to serve both their guests and local communities.”

“The enthusiasm that Intrawest’s employees exhibit for the guest experience and for being responsible members of their communities is apparent in all they do. We are excited to be part of the investment group that is going to work hard to help realize the collective potential of Intrawest’s portfolio of resorts,” said Mike Kaplan, chief executive officer of Aspen.

Season Passes For the full 2017-18 winter season, each Intrawest resort will continue to honor the resort’s existing pass products that are currently on sale, including the Rocky Mountain Super Pass

 and the M.A.X. Pass.

Squaw Valley Ski Holdings

While not a condition to the merger, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, the parent company of Squaw Valley /Alpine Meadows resort and an affiliate of KSL, will also become part of the entity at closing, but continue to operate under its current management.

Additional Transaction Details

Further information regarding the transaction will be included in an information statement to be mailed to Intrawest shareholders. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Moelis & Company LLC and Houlihan Lokey are serving as financial advisors to Intrawest. Goldman, Sachs & Co. is serving as financial advisor to Aspen and KSL and is acting as financial advisor to the new entity. Hogan Lovells US LLP, Latham and Watkins LLP and Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP are serving as legal counsel to Aspen and KSL. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP are serving as legal counsel to Intrawest.

About Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc.

Intrawest is a North American mountain resort and adventure company, delivering distinctive vacation and travel experiences to its customers for over three decades. The Company wholly owns and/or operates six fourseason mountain resorts with approximately 8,000 skiable acres and over 1,100 acres of land available for real estate development. Intrawest’s mountain resorts are geographically diversified across most of North America’s major ski regions, including the Eastern United States, the Rocky Mountains, and Canada. The Company also operates an adventure travel business, the cornerstone of which is Canadian Mountain Holidays, a leading heli-skiing adventure company in North America. Additionally, the Company operates a comprehensive real estate business through which it manages condominium hotel properties and sells and markets residential real estate. Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc. common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: SNOW). For more information, visit www.intrawest.com.

About Aspen Skiing Company

Aspen Skiing Company owns and operates the four mountains of Aspen Snowmass – Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk – as well hospitality properties The Little Nell, Residences at The Little Nell, Limelight Aspen and Limelight Ketchum in Ketchum, Idaho, In addition, Aspen Skiing Company owns and operates numerous retail and rental locations through the resort and the Roaring Fork Valley. For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.

About KSL Capital Partners KSL Capital Partners, LLC is a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure enterprises in five primary sectors: hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate and travel services. KSL has offices in Denver, Colorado; Stamford, Connecticut; and London. Since 2005, KSL has raised approximately $7.5 billion in equity capital commitments. KSL's current portfolio includes some of the premier properties in travel and leisure. For more information, please visit www.kslcapital.com.

Source: Aspen and Denver, Colorado, April 10, 2017 – Aspen Skiing Company LLC