Did anyone out there in SkiSoutheast.com-land feel the earth shake on Friday, August 11th? I didn’t think so. However some big news did explode onto the scene when Joe S. Houssain – President & CEO of IntraWest released the major announcement that "INTRAWEST CORPORATION has now been acquired by FORTRESS INVESTMENT GROUP LLC" – for about 2.9 BILLION dollars.
We received a few emails and there was even a messageboard post or two about it – with some people speculating about how someone else owning IntraWest would mean huge changes at Snowshoe Mountain and the rest of the company’s managed resorts. Don’t expect to see anything different from a skier’s or visitor’s viewpoint. Expect the same growth (if not more) and the same product (if not even better).
The official NEWS RELEASE can be read in it’s entirity by clicking here (You’ll need to click on "click here for more" link at the bottom of this post and then you’ll see the link.)
The summary of it is simply that IntraWest HAS BEEN SOLD to Fortress Investment Group LLC for about $2.8 BILLION – with a "B".
Joe S. Houssain formed IntraWest in the mid-70s and it began as a Vancouver-based real estate development company in 1976 which, under Joe’s direction, quickly grew to be a successful urban real estate company active in residential, commercial, industrial and resort-oriented development in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.
In 1986 the company acquired Blackcomb Mountain, adjacent to Whistler Mountain, in British Columbia. Shortly thereafter Intrawest began acquiring other mountain resorts and was approached by a number of resort owners to build a village at their base, including Keystone Mountain in Colorado and Mammoth Mountain in California.
In 1990 Intrawest became a public company and now trades on the Toronto (ITW) and New York (IDR) stock exchanges.
In 1994 the decision was made to divest the company’s urban real estate arm and shift Intrawest’s entire focus to four-season mountain resorts. Joe’s vision in choosing and empowering a superior management team have resulted in courageous decisions which have built a company that has been the leading developer and operator of village-centered destination resorts across North America.
At about the same time that Houssain was making his major announcement to the public, he released a company-wide memorandum to all IntraWest staffers that basically made them aware that their paychecks would soon have a different logo on them. He was quoted as saying, "We have entered into a definitive agreement under which Intrawest will be acquired by Fortress Investment Group LLC."
For those unaware, Fortress is headquartered in New York and has a ton of global investment and asset management with approximately $23 billion in equity capital. Houssain also said, "Fortress’ approach is an excellent fit with our portfolio of assets and experience in both destination resorts and adventure travel."
According to Houssain, the announcement is the outcome of the process that commenced in February to review all of the strategic options available to them for enhancing shareholder value and creating the strongest possible financial foundation to support the future growth of the Company. His company-wide memo also stated, "This transaction represents a great opportunity for Intrawest, our shareholders and our people. The primary impact will be on the ownership structure of Intrawest. The people of Fortress have embraced Intrawest’s unique business model and they are eager to deploy the additional capital required to bring our business to the next level. In the coming months, we will begin working with them to determine the best ways to build upon the Intrawest business platform to create a larger and even more successful business."
He closed his memorandum by saying, "As the founder of Intrawest, I have had the opportunity to lead the company through numerous phases of growth and expansion. There has never been a time in our 30-year history when I have been as enthusiastic about the prospects for our business and the opportunities available to our company. We have an irreplaceable universe of assets, substantial financial strength and great human resources. Our next phase of positive evolution is clearly going to be an exciting one. I thank you for your focus, dedication and patience during these past months when communication was sparse due to confidentiality agreements. We realize that there will be questions regarding this transaction that affect you and your business. We will resume regular communication updates as the process unfolds and those answers become available. In the meantime let’s focus on the task at hand; we have a big year ahead."
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN AT SNOWSHOE MOUNTAIN?
To those of us that love skiing at Snowshoe Mountain – nothing of significance except that we might even see more growth – if that is even possible. More slopes, more accommodations, more of everything.
Snowshoe Mountain has been doing some major moving and shaking over the last year since Bill Rock replaced Bruce Pittet as General Manager. We’ve documented the new lift and slope plans and we’ll be sharing more of what to expect for the 2006-2007 season within a day or two. We’ve also received news that BJ Hungate, the popular V.P. of Marketing for Snowshoe for more than 20 years is now in a new position in Food and Beverage. That’s major since BJ has been THE MAN in that department for a long time. We don’t have any news on the move, but as they always say – change is good. You can bet that Snowshoe Mountain will continue to offer what is arguably the best product in the Southeast region for skiers and snowlovers!
Until Next time…
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