Aspen Skiing buying California's Mammoth Resorts ski areas

Aspen Skiing buying California's Mammoth Resorts ski areas

California is suffering one of the worst droughts in its history. It did not disclose the terms of the deal, which CEO Rusty Gregory called "the next logical chapter" for the company.

A big concern going forward will be how the new management maintains each mountain's identity as it takes control of 10 resorts across North America.

The partners' unnamed "new entity" is acquiring Mammoth Resorts, which also owns June Mountain near Mammoth as well as the Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski areas near San Bernardino, California, which Mammoth Resorts acquired in 2014, KSL said in an announcement.

For now, a rival season pass will have to wait.

But the previously undisputed dominance of Vail Resorts is threatened with this upstart union of industry veterans.

The deal pits the Aspen Skiing/KSL group against Broomfield-based Vail Resorts Inc., which in the past year has purchased three-fourths of the Whistler Blackcomb ski area in Canada and the Stowe ski area in Vermont. The joint alliance of Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners now control more than 6,000 acres of Southern California ski terrain that hosts more than 2 million skiers each year.

Aspen Snowmass said earlier this week it was retaining separate operations, while the Intrawest resorts would be folded into the new company.

As noted at the Times, the deals are part of a larger trend in which ski resorts have been lumped in bulk.

Eric Resnick, the chief executive of KSL Capital Partners, said Gregory "will definitely be staying on board", but he declined to discuss whether Gregory or snowboarding superstar Shaun White would retain their stakes in Mammoth. Teachers Advisors LLC now owns 57,444 shares of the company's stock valued at $1,025,000 after buying an additional 17,523 shares during the last quarter.

KSL, a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure businesses, has raised approximately $7.4 billion in equity capital commitments since 2005.

"We really learned that we see eye-to-eye on many things", Perry said.

At Mountain High ski resort in Wrightwood, the acquisition will not result in day-to-day changes in operations for the next ski season, said spokesman John McColly. "And I'm saying that as a customer of the ski business for a lot longer than we've been investors". In addition, Aspen Skiing Company owns and operates numerous retail and rental locations through the resort and the Roaring Fork Valley.

On Monday, Aspen Ski Co. added serious fuel to the Vail/Aspen rivalry. He said Aspen and KSL found that consumers tend to want a multi-mountain pass so they can explore other ski areas outside their home mountain. Those resorts, at 100 miles east of Los Angeles, draw close to 800,000 visits.

Skico's familiarity with Mammoth in the Mountain Collective Pass led to the merger. Intrawest's holdings include Steamboat and Winter Park. Mammoth Lakes, the cozy town with a large airport at the base of the ski area, has revived under Starwood's investment.

Mammoth Resorts also owns the Tamarack Lodge and Resort, Mammoth Mountain Inn, Juniper Springs Resort, the Village Lodge, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, Snow Summit Bike Park, Mammoth Snowmobile Adventures, Sierra Star Golf Course and Bear Mountain Golf Course.

Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc., a leading North American mountain resort and adventure company, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by a newly-formed entity controlled by affiliates of the Aspen Skiing Company, L.L.C. "We had greater plans for Mammoth but the Great Recession and then some less favorable weather, interfered with our strategic aspirations in a finite life investment vehicle".

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