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Great Wolf Gets $234 Million KSL Bid That Tops Apollo Again

Great Wolf Resorts Inc. received a $234 million takeover offer from KSL Capital Partners LLC, topping a bid from Apollo Global Management LLC for a second time and extending a private-equity bidding contest for the water-park operator.

KSL made an unsolicited offer of $7 a share in cash, Madison, Wisconsin-based Great Wolf said in a statement yesterday, adding that it would consider the proposal. Shares of Great Wolf, which said on April 6 that it agreed to a sweetened bid from Apollo of $6.75 a share, rose to the highest in almost four years.

The latest offer from KSL, a Denver-based private-equity firm, is 40 percent more than the original $5 a share transaction that Great Wolf and Apollo disclosed last month. Great Wolf owns 11 resorts that cater to families and feature indoor water parks, suite-style rooms, restaurants, spas and arcades.

As part of the revised deal with Apollo disclosed April 6, Great Wolf agreed to boost the fee it owes Apollo if it accepts a higher offer to $9 million from $7 million. Holders have until April 20 at midnight to tender their shares into the Apollo offer, Great Wolf said in the April 6 statement.

Midwestern Roots

Great Wolf rose 13 percent to $7.44 in New York, above the offer price and the highest level since May 15, 2008.

Apollo, the New York-based buyout firm founded by Leon Black, declined to comment through spokesman Charles Zehren. Apollo’s shares fell 1.3 percent to $14.16. The stock has gained 14 percent this year.

KSL Capital invests in resorts and spas, closing its latest fund last year with $2 billion. It was founded in 2005 by two former executives of a KKR & Co. portfolio company that owned resorts, according to its website.

Great Wolf opened its first lodge in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, in 1997 and has expanded into eight other U.S. states and Canada since then. In 2010, Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Schaefer was the first female CEO on CBS Corp.’s reality television program “Undercover Boss.”

The company was sued by shareholders following the March 13 proposed buyout by Apollo, which offered $5 a share in a deal valued at $703 million, including the assumption of Great Wolf’s outstanding debt. The lawsuits claimed Great Wolf didn’t obtain the highest possible tender offer, saying its own financial adviser, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., valued the company between $3.74 and $7.98 a share.

Great Wolf is getting financial advice from Deutsche Bank AG and legal counsel from Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP. Apollo said last month it was using Morgan Stanley, UBS AG, Nomura Holdings Inc. and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

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