Saturday, July 15, 2006

Steamboat For Sale - Again

Five years after American Skiing Company last offered the Steamboat Ski Area for sale, it’s on the market again.

American Skiing Co. officials said they have retained the investment banking firm Bear Stearns & Company to market the sale of the Steamboat Ski Area. The ski area is one of eight owned by publicly traded ASC, which is based in Park City, Utah. American Skiing CEO B.J. Fair was in Steamboat on Friday to share the news with Steamboat employees.

The company last sought to sell Steamboat as part of the financial reorganization of debt-straddled ASC in May 2001. The sale to Triple Peaks LLC for $91.4 million was scheduled to go through in March 2002, but ASC backed out at the last minute. Instead of selling Steamboat to a group led by Tim and Diane Mueller of Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt., ASC opted to sell Heavenly Mountain Resort in California to Vail Resorts.

The abandoned deal led to a lawsuit, which was finally settled for cash in July 2004. The terms of the settlement give the Muellers 30 days to take part in exclusive negotiations with ASC for the purchase of the Steamboat Ski Area. Tim Mueller said he is not sure whether he will try to acquire the ski area. The Muellers have since purchased Crested Butte Mountain Resort and are in the midst of aggressive expansion plans.

Bear Stearns can be expected to screen prospective buyers before making Steamboat’s financials available to them.

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