Now you can. No joke.
A report in the Globe and Mail today indicates that Fortress Investment Group LLC is about to file an initial public offering (IPO) to offer public shares in the company. The story says Fortress is going this way after trying and failing to find buyers.
The story, citing anonymous sources as so many stories about Whistler Blackcomb have had to do, says various people have been approached about buying the resort. That includes oil mogul Murray Edwards and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. In the past, other business media have reported that Vladimir Potanin, head of the Sochi ski resort, was also approached with the possibility of buying it, giving him ownership of host ski resorts in two straight Winter Olympics.
I covered this story for a while and did a real hack job of it. It was incredibly difficult to get updates and all along neither Intrawest nor Fortress were willing to comment. Anyone who was only wanted to speak off record.
What I was able to glean from some analysts was that Whistler Blackcomb is the jewel in Intrawest’s crown, and that the company doesn’t have much further to go if it loses it. What I also figured out was that lenders to Fortress wanted to sell Whistler Blackcomb in order to get the money back that they put up to help the hedge fund buy Intrawest. Lenders including Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank and Bear Stearns (now JP Morgan) put up $1.5 billion of capital to make it happen and thus far haven’t seen a great return on their investment.
If made public, I think it’s fair to assume that Intrawest will make an offer to hold on to it. But again, that’s something people will have to glean from sources working behind the scenes, and don’t want to be outed lest they jeopardize what are very sensitive negotiations.