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Fortress remains mum

World awaits word on Whistler-Blackcomb's parent company


While the ski world was atwitter all weekend following Friday’s report in the Financial Times that Fortress Investment Group is struggling to keep Intrawest afloat, there is still no comment from the private equity firm.

The U.K.-based Financial Times reported that two Fortress companies, Intrawest — parent company of Whistler-Blackcomb and 10 other ski areas — and Gagfah, a German residential real estate group, are both in need of cash injections. However, Gagfah said in a Friday statement it had no need to raise additional equity or debt.

Fortress bought Intrawest for $2.8 billion in 2006. Intrawest has $1.68 billion in debt that is due on Thursday, Oct. 23. The Financial Times, citing sources close to Fortress, said the company is investing an additional $100 million in Intrawest to preserve its equity value. The paper quoted a portion of a letter sent to investors on Oct. 3 which said: “We are engaged in constructive discussions with the balance of the lending group.”

Fortress has reportedly approached lenders to discuss refinancing $1.4 billion in senior debt.

People familiar with New York-based Fortress said there was a low probability Intrawest will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed told the CBC Monday that he is concerned by the reports of Intrawest’s financial problems but he thought it very unlikely Whistler-Blackcomb would be affected because it has been the most profitable of Intrawest’s resort operations.

Intrawest has referred media inquiries to Fortress, but there has been no comment from New York.

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