Whistler (BC), Canada – Denver-based KSL Partners, the private equity firm that has been quietly snatching up ski resorts across the U.S. and leasing them back to their operators, has entered into an agreement to buy a substantial interest in Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. from Intrawest ULC.
Whistler Blackcomb Holdings owns and operates North America’s largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada. The sale agreement accounts for Intrawest’s 9,092,500 common shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, approximately 24% of the corporation’s issued and outstanding common shares, for $12.75 per common share in a transaction totaling nearly $116 million.
The Intrawest disposition is being made in conjunction with an Intrawest refinancing. The transaction is expected to be completed tomorrow.
As a result of the sale by Intrawest, Bill Jensen has tendered his resignation as a director and Chief Executive Officer of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, and Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley have each tendered their resignation as a director of the corporation, effective as of the time of closing. Also effective as of the time of closing, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors has appointed Dave Brownlie, the corporation’s current President and Chief Operating Officer, as the corporation’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a director, and appointed Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott, both of KSL, as directors to fill the vacancies created by these resignations.
Resnick is co-founder and Managing Director of KSL and has deep, long-standing ties to the ski industry. McDermott is a partner at KSL.
Concurrently with these appointments, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors has appointed Flora Ferraro, the corporation’s current Vice President of Finance, as Interim Chief Financial Officer. The corporation intends to announce the appointment of a permanent chief financial officer shortly.
“KSL is delighted to be acquiring a 24% interest in a world-class ski area. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest and most visited ski resort in North America and we feel that it complements our portfolio of premier travel and leisure properties,” said Resnick. “Peter and I are looking forward to working with the board to grow the business. Whistler Blackcomb has a very experienced and successful management team and we are enthusiastic to work with them as they continue to deliver a fantastic mountain experience for Whistler Blackcomb’s guests.”
“On behalf of the board of directors, I am very pleased to welcome Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott to the board. We would also like to express our appreciation to Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley for their contributions to Whistler Blackcomb during their tenure on the board, and especially to Bill Jensen, for his valued service as Chief Executive Officer and as a director,” commented Graham Savage, Chairman of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors. “We are also pleased to appoint Dave Brownlie as Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the board of directors. With over 24 years in ski resort management, Dave brings insight and experience to the position and I am looking forward to continuing to work with him to grow the business.”
In a statement to shareholders, KSL indicated that the firm expects to hold the purchased shares for investment purposes. However, they added that KSL and its affiliates expect to evaluate on an ongoing basis the financial condition and prospects of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings and its interest in the corporation, and may from time to time acquire additional common shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings or may dispose of all or a part of their shares.