Whistler Ski Resort Said to Sell $297 Million in IPO

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc., owner of the Canadian ski resort that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, raised C$300 million ($297 million) in an initial public offering after cutting the share price twice, said two people familiar with the sale.

The company sold 25 million shares, or a 66 percent stake, for C$12 apiece, with a dividend yield of about 8.1 percent, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. The company had planned to sell shares for as much as C$15 each.

The proceeds will be used to repay debt owed to Intrawest ULC, the selling shareholder and a unit of New York-based buyout firm Fortress Investment Group LLC. Whistler Blackcomb will list on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol WB and start trading Nov. 9. A message left with Intrawest spokeswoman Tabetha Boot wasn’t immediately returned.

The sale values the ski resort at C$453 million, based on 37.8 million shares outstanding. The banks arranging the sale, led by CIBC world Markets and RBC Dominion Securities, have an option to sell an additional 15 percent of the offering after the deal closes, raising proceeds to C$345 million and the stake to 76 percent.

Whistler Blackcomb cut the share price from an initial range of C$14 to C$15 each as other IPOs were scrapped. SNC- Lavalin Group Inc. last week canceled a C$900 million IPO of its TransAxio Highway Concession Inc., and yesterday California packaging maker Global Packaging Plus Inc. postponed its C$92.5 million sale.

Ski, Golf Resorts

Fortress, run by Daniel Mudd, agreed to buy Intrawest Corp. in August 2006 for about $2.8 billion including debt. Intrawest, founded in 1976, runs ski and golf resorts in Canada and the U.S. including Mont Tremblant near Montreal and Steamboat in Colorado. The company also sells timeshares through its Club Intrawest unit and owns Canadian Mountain Holidays, the world’s largest heli-skiing operation, according to its Web site.

Whistler Blackcomb, North America’s largest ski resort, is about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of Vancouver. It attracted 1.88 million skiers and snowboarders in the year ended Sept. 30, according to filings. Whistler Blackcomb has the largest area of skiable terrain, the most marked trails and highest lift capacity of any North American ski resort.

Whistler Blackcomb had net income of C$45.5 million on sales of C$214 million for the 12 months ended June 30, according to an Oct. 8 filing with Canadian regulators. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the period were C$65.5 million.

Based on those results, Whistler Blackcomb had a price-to- earnings ratio of about 10. Vail Resorts Inc., the Broomfield, Colorado-based ski resort operator, trades at 58 times earnings.

Whistler Blackcomb’s stock sale adds to $4.6 billion in IPOs in Canada this year, the highest amount since 2006.

To contact the reporter on this story: Doug Alexander in Toronto at dalexander3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net; or David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net

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