You could be forgiven for wondering what the heck is going on with Intrawest, parent company of Whistler Blackcomb. Rumours and reports have abounded in the past few weeks about where the resort company stands. Some say it's for sale; others that it's being foreclosed upon; still others that its status is "imperiling" Whistler Blackcomb, a key venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
There's a grain of truth in some of this and many things are within the realm of possibility. But several steps would have to be taken before any significant changes occur.
Pique has contacted sources close to the situation to try and clear up what's happening with Whistler Blackcomb's parent company.
Q: What is up for auction?
A: A majority equity stake in Intrawest Holdings S.à.r.l.
Q: What does S.à.r.l. mean?
A: "Societe à responsabilité limitée." It's a French term that translates roughly as "Limited Liability Company." It means the company's liability is limited to the contributions of its members.
Q: What is an equity stake?
A: It's a share of ownership in the company. If you pay a certain amount to a company, you get equity and own a portion of the company and can profit from it proportionally.
Q: What is Intrawest Holdings S.à.r.l.?
A: A subsidiary of Intrawest that owns the following: Intrawest ULC; Intrawest U.S. Holdings Inc.; Intrawest Resorts Inc.; Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises LP; Whistler Mountain Resort LP; Intrawest/Lodestar LP; IW Resorts LP; Mont Tremblant Resorts and Company LP; Intrawest California Holdings Inc.; Intrawest Golf Holdings Inc.; Intrawest Resort Ownership U.S. Corporation; Intrawest Retail Group Inc.; Intrawest Sandestin Company LLC; Intrawest/Winter Park Holdings Corporation; Mountain Creek Resort Inc.; Mt. Tremblant Reservations Inc.; Playground LP; Playground Destination Properties Inc.; Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation; Resort Reservations Network Inc.; Snowshoe Mountain Inc.; the Stratton Corporation; Blue Mountain Resorts Limited; Intrawest Hospitality Management Inc.
Q: Who is putting it up for auction?
A: Intrawest was purchased in October 2006 by Wintergames Holdings S.à.r.l., a holding company owned by a series of funds that are managed by Fortress Investment Group. Fortress financed the purchase by contributing $1.375 billion in cash equity and $1.5 billion in debt to the investment groups Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank and Bear Stearns (now JP Morgan). Those three lenders, along with Davidson Kempner and Oak Hill Advisors LP, have contracted Wilmington Trust FSB, a Delaware-based commercial bank, to hold an auction for a stake in Intrawest Holdings S.à.r.l. on Feb. 19.