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Intrawest moves into survival mode

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On April 13, Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen told reporters at the Summit Daily News that the company may be looking to sell some of its assets. This comes as no big news for those who live or own property at one of Intrawest's many resorts. We've been following the gradual demise of hedge fund owner, Fortress Investments ever since the economic collapse.

Jensen's comments correspond with Whistler Blackcomb's recent announcement that new budgetary cuts would be aimed at year-round, salaried W-B employees, with wages being rolled back to 2008 levels. [See WB freezes wages, rolls back salaries, Whistler Question, April 15, 2009]

Admittedly, it's been a tougher than expected winter season in Whistler, with skier visits down and snow levels not quite up to par. Combine that with the Suzuki Foundation's new report, On Thin Ice: Winter Sports and Climate Change, which warns that skiing at Whistler and other winter activities across Canada may be severely limited in the near future.

We all know the downfall is coming - we just don't know which properties are on the chopping block. If Intrawest decides to part with its flagship resort prior to the 2010 Olympics, will the BC government need to step in to buy the mountain?

Many residents still believe that Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains should be owned and operated locally, with the money remaining in the community - not being funnelled to Wall Street. If only taxpayers in Whistler hadn't recently been taxed with a hefty 19 per cent tax increase over three years!

More to come on this developing issue...

Further reading:

Survival mode for Intrawest?
Summit Daily News
April 13, 2009

Intrawest may sell resorts
Canwest News Service
April 17, 2009

The owner of Canada's biggest ski resorts -- including 2010 Olympics venue Whistler-Blackcomb -- may be looking to sell some of its assets in order to reduce debt, the company's CEO told a Colorado newspaper.

"The reality is, in this global economic challenge, we have to take every step to survive," CEO Bill Jensen told the Summit Daily News in Frisco, Col..

While Colorado's Copper Mountain Resort would not be sold, the company would consider financing some of its businesses independently -- notably Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Jensen said.

No mention of Whistler-Blackcomb was made in the article. Intrawest spokesman Ian Galbraith refused to comment on what he called "rumours or speculation in the market."

Vancouver-based Intrawest was bought for $2.8 billion in 2006 by Fortress Investment , a New York private equity and hedge fund, incurring debt of $1.7 billion US. Fortress scrambled to refinance the loan when it came due in October, after Intrawest, which holds the debt, was pushed to the brink of creditor protection. © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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