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Published: Sat, August 13, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Industry giant Vail Resorts buys Whistler-Blackomb


Vail Resorts also plans to invest in Whistler Blackcomb's infrastructure and growth, including building upon the recently announced Renaissance project, which includes a four-season, weather-independent line-up of activities and events, such as mountain biking and sightseeing experiences. (NYSE: MTN) ("Vail Resorts") and Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, Inc.

History: A group of businessmen from Vancouver led by Franz Wilhelmsen established Garibaldi Lifts Limited in 1960 in the hopes of developing an alpine ski area on London Mountain. Found north of Vancouver, British Columbia, the combined ski areas of Whistler and Blackcomb cover 8,171 skiable acres with a vertical drop of more than 5,000 feet. The deal has a total value of $36 (Canadian) a share, or 43 percent more than Whistler Blackcomb's closing price on August 5.

Shares of Whistler Blackcomb jumped to a new all-time high when markets opened Monday, rising above C$36 per share in Toronto.

The acquisition now gives Vail Resorts properties in three different countries, including Australia and their 12 locations in the U.S.

Whistler-Blackcomb shareholders are being offered $676 million of cash and Vail stock worth about $715 million - making the deal worth almost $1.4 billion.

The deal is expected to close this fall. In 2003, Whistler was purchased by neighboring resort Blackcomb Mountain after years of rivalry, and is now the number one ranked and most visited resort in North America according to Brownlie. Vail Resorts, which is the largest resort operator in North America, is buying the continent's biggest ski area, Canada's Whistler, the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

With Vail Resorts on board, Whistler Blackcomb's CEO says that the resort will have more financial strength and a more diverse alliance in Canada, the US and even Australia.

Today's announcement of Vail's most recent purchase is a landmark in Whistler's history.

Vail's offer was unsolicited, Whistler CEO Dave Brownlie said on a conference call, adding that there were no other bidders. Skiiers who frequent Whistler Blackcomb don't need to worry, the companies said, as all 2016-17 season passes will be honored. An earlier version used an incorrect spelling for Vail.

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