3-18-19 RPP Challenge Cup

The summit triple chair (left) where it goes over the quad chair is seen at Attitash last winter. The lift has been plagued by mechanical failures. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

BARTLETT — Monday became a major news day for the local ski industry after it was announced that Vail Resorts Inc., based out of Broomfield, Colo., is purchasing Peak Resorts Inc. and its 17 ski resorts for $264 million.

Peak's holdings include Attitash Mountain in Bartlett and Wildcat Mountain in Pinkham Notch, as well as Crotched Mountain in Francestown, and Mount Snow in Vermont.

Vail Resorts owns Mount Sunapee Resort in western New Hampshire, as well as Stowe and Okemo resorts in Vermont.

Vail is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (MTN).

According to a press release issued Monday, it will acquire 100 percent of Peak's outstanding stock for $11 per share, subject to certain conditions, including regulatory review.

“We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to add such a powerful network of ski areas to our company,” Rob Katz, Vail's chairman and chief executive officer, said in Monday's press release.

“Peak Resorts’ ski areas in the Northeast are a perfect complement to our existing resorts and together will provide a very compelling offering to our guests in New York and Boston," he stated.

"With this acquisition, we are also able to make a much stronger connection to guests in critical cities in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest."

The pending transaction was hailed by Timothy Boyd, president and chief executive officer of Peak Resorts of Wildwood, Mo.

“Vail Resorts has a proven track record of celebrating the unique identity of its resorts, while continually investing in the guest and employee experience. For this reason, we are confident that our resorts and employees will continue to thrive within the Vail Resorts network,” said Boyd in a statement issued Monday.

"We are very proud of our track record over the last two decades in building the breadth, quality and accessibility of our resorts. We are thrilled that our guests will now have access to some of the world’s most renowned resorts,” he said.

Peak Resorts acquired Attitash in 2007 and Wildcat in 2010. The areas have offered reciprocal tickets.

Vail Resorts currently offers a 2019-20 Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, Military Epic Pass and Epic Day Pass. After the transaction closes, Peak and Vail will combine their multi-area passes, the press release said.

"For the 2019-20 season, Vail Resorts will honor and continue to sell all Peak Resorts pass products, and Peak Resorts’ pass holders will have the option to upgrade to an Epic Pass or Epic Local Pass, following closing of the transaction," the release said.

Improvements to Attitash and Wildcat's snowmaking systems were made under Peak’s ownership. Attitash’s troublesome triple summit lift, however, suffered several breakdowns over the busy Christmas Week and then into the season. Company officials said despite efforts to repair it, the lift would not be running for the rest of the ski season but that repairs would be made.

It is not unknown how being acquired by Vail will affect infrastructure improvement at the local areas, but Monday's release said the company will be making improvements nationwide.

“After closing of the transaction, Vail Resorts plans to invest approximately $15 million over the next two years in one-time capital spending to elevate the guest experience at these resorts,” the release said.

The transaction was approved by both companies’ boards of directors, and Peak Resorts' board recommends that its shareholders approve the transaction.

The transaction is expected to close this fall. The parties expect operations at all Peak ski areas to continue in the ordinary course of business. Upon closing, Vail Resorts plans to retain the vast majority of each resort’s employees.

In addition to the New England ski areas, Vail's subsidiaries also operate Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia; Stevens Pass in Washington state; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota; and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia.

Vail Resorts owns and/or manages a collection of hotels under the RockResorts brand, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge Co. in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The acquisition is expected to generate annual before-tax earnings of approximately $60 million in Vail Resorts' fiscal year ending July 31, 2021.

Vail Resorts' annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase by $10 million to support the addition of the Peak Resorts ski areas.

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