The corporate structure of Intrawest Corporation continues to evolve, with the announcement April 6 of the appointment of Alex Wasilov to the newly created position of president and chief operating officer.
Wasilov, a member of Intrawest’s board of directors for the past 14 months, will lead the operating divisions of Placemaking; Mountain Resorts; Lodging, Golf and Spa; Adventure and Active Travel; and Corporate Development. He will report directly to Joe Houssian, chairman and chief executive officer of Intrawest.
Hugh Smythe, president of Intrawest’s Mountain Resorts division, said in a release: "I am very excited about the value that Intrawest, and in particular the divisions that report to me, will garner from Alex Wasilov's appointment to the new position of President and Chief Operating Officer for Intrawest."
Smythe, who will report to Wasilov, added: "I personally am greatly looking forward to Alex’s contribution to the company overall, and feel that his joining Intrawest in this new role is a very positive step for all of us."
The company also announced that Drew Stotesbury has been appointed president of Intrawest Placemaking, the company’s real estate division. Stotesbury, a former finance director for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, had been the acting president of Intrawest Placemaking since November, when Gary Raymond left the position.
The personnel moves come five weeks after Intrawest announced it was undertaking a strategic review that will include analysis of capital structure, strategic partnerships and business combinations. The Vancouver-based company said at that time it had retained Goldman, Sachs & Co to assist in the review, although Goldman Sachs has been involved with Intrawest since last fall.
The announcement of the strategic review followed rumours that Pirate Capital LLC, now the largest single shareholder of Intrawest stock, may have been preparing a hostile takeover bid for the company at last fall’s annual general meeting. Pirate continues to believe Intrawest’s stock should be worth more than it is and that there are potential bidders who would pay a premium to gain control of the company.
On Saturday the National Post reported that Starwood Capital Group Global LLC, a private equity fund, was "taking a serious look at bidding for… Intrawest Corp." Citing un-named sources, the National Post reported that Starwood may team up with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., a private equity fund, to make an offer for Intrawest.
Starwood, which is run by hotel tycoon Barry Sternlicht, bought a majority interest in California’s Mammoth ski area from Intrawest last fall. Starwood and Intrawest are also linked through a real estate joint venture.
Some analysts have suggested that what Intrawest needs is an "angel investor" to partner with the company. That may prove to be Wasilov’s area of expertise.
Prior to last week’s appointment Wasilov was president of Hirtle, Callaghan & Co., a $12 billion financial asset management firm. Wasilov, who holds a MBA from the University of Rhode Island, has served in a number of senior corporate management positions, including president of Rosenbluth International, the largest supplier of information technology services to the online travel industry, with sales in excess of $3 billion. Smythe said Rosenbluth has "the reputation for the best customer service in its sector, along with a very strong employee focus. It has been cited twice among the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For."
Wasilov led the sale of Rosenbluth International to American Express and then served as senior advisor to American Express. He has also held senior roles for Eastman Kodak and Xerox, with responsibilities in Asia and Europe.
"Alex is a mature, experienced executive who has a proven track record of taking Fortune 100 companies to new levels in a global context," Houssian said in a release. "Alex is a great new asset for our company, and I look forward to working with him as we continue to firmly establish Intrawest as the world leader in destination resorts and adventure travel."