Published: Wed, August 10, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Vail Resorts to buy Canada's Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler's Renaissance is a $345 million investment to bring year-round recreation to the ski resort in the form of an indoor waterpark, another indoor "action-sports complex", an outdoor non-skiing "Adventure Park", new chairlifts, restaurants, and snowmaking, extended development phases for the base village at Blackcomb, a six-star luxury hotel, and more ski-in, ski-out condos.

"We believe that working with Vail will accelerate our business plan and we look forward to go ahead [with the agreement]", said Mr. Brownlie. It also bought Australia's largest mountain resort - the Perisher ski resort - a year ago. Beyond its home state of Colorado the company has locations in Utah, California as well as it Perisher ski resort in Australia.

The purchase had nothing to do with the low value of the Canadian dollar, he added.

"The weather challenges that we have - over the long term, I mean weather continues to become probably more volatile on a regional basis", Brownlie said.

"Vail Resorts intends to retain the vast majority of Whistler Blackcomb employees, while only impacting a few select areas where there may be duplication in corporate functions", the companies said.

"For our company to have a strong entree into that opportunity is meaningful".

Named after local marmots who "whistles" when they communicate, the resort was originally developed in hopes of hosting the 1968 Olympic games. The federal government recently lifted visa requirements for Mexicans visiting Canada. Vail will acquire all of Whistler's stock in the deal - the priciest acquisition in the company's three-decades long history.

Late in 2014, Vail Resorts purchased the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah for $182.5 million, and combined it with its neighboring property, The Canyons, to create the largest US ski resort, featuring 41 lifts and 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. The transaction gives Vail 100 percent ownership of Whistler Blackcomb's stock.

Whistler Blackcomb (TSX:WB) shareholders are being offered C$676 million of cash and Vail stock (NYSE:MTN) worth about C$715 million, making the deal worth almost C$1.4 billion when it was announced.

Vail's stock traded up about 7% in the noon hour Monday at $154.09, after posting a new 52-week high earlier of $157.95. In January 1966, the hill opened to the public, featuring a four-person gondola, a double chairlift, two T-bars and a day lodge. The resort's popularity, which grew following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, helped push adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization to a record in the fiscal second quarter, ended March 31.

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