American Skiing Co. to dissolve

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – American Skiing Co. said Monday it was selling its last ski area and going out of business.

American Skiing, which owned 10 ski areas as recently as 2001, said it would sell The Canyons, a 3,700-acre resort in Park City, for $100 million to an affiliate of Toronto-based Talisker Corp., a luxury resort operator that has invested heavily in lodging at Deer Valley, another Park City resort.

Talisker became owner of land and mineral rights at Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, which are operated by separate companies, when it bought United Park City Mines in 2003.

American Skiing, meanwhile, will “wind down its affairs” by September, said B.J. Fair, president and CEO of the company.

American Skiing began operating The Canyons in 1997, taking over a tiny ski area called Wolf Mountain. Over the years it invested heavily in mountain and base lodge amenities, adding terrain and lifts as recently as last winter.

It previously announced the sale of Maine’s two largest ski areas – Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA – leaving The Canyons as its last resort to sell.

American Skiing’s majority preferred stockholder pushed for the company’s liquidation. Still, New York-based private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners won’t recover its entire investment in American Skiing, company executives said.

Common stockholders will get nothing as American Skiing dissolves, said David Hirasawa, the company’s investor-relations director.

“This is not a default-type of arrangement. We are not in bankruptcy. We are paying out to different equity holders in order of seniority,” he said.

American Skiing’s board, which includes Oak Hill, realized the money it could get from its ski areas when it got a $265 million offer on Colorado’s Steamboat Springs resort from Canadian resort operator Intrawest Corp.

Steamboat changed hands in March.

“We got exceptionally strong value for that resort,” Hirasawa said. “On the heels of that transaction, and because the value was so strong, we were forced to explore some opportunities (to sell) our remaining resorts. The decision was the result of strong market conditions.”

In February, American Skiing disclosed it was selling Vermont’s Mount Snow and New Hampshire’s Attitash ski areas for $73.5 million. Then, four days later, it announced the sale of Vermont’s Killington and Pico resorts for $83.5 million.

Killington and Mount Snow are among the largest of New England’s ski areas.

The Canyons bills itself Utah’s largest ski resort, but only for lift-accessible terrain.

At 5,500 acres, Powder Mountain, 19 miles northeast of Ogden, claims to be the largest U.S. ski area. Skiers, however, can reach only about half of those acres by coasting from the top of one of Powder Mountain’s lifts. The rest of the terrain involves climbing or shuffling along mountain ridges.



On the Net:

American Skiing Co.: http://www.peaks.com/index.html

AP-ES-07-16-07 1959EDT

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