Heavenly buyer announces plans to go public | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly buyer announces plans to go public

Sally J. Taylor

NEWRY, Maine – ASC Holdings, Inc., the parent company of the American Skiing Company, expects to fund the purchase of Heavenly Ski Resort, Steamboat Ski Resort and other properties by going public.

The company announced Wednesday that it had filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. An initial offering, expected to be completed in October, is proposed at $250 million of common stock.

The number and price of shares to be sold were not released.

Underwriters for the offering will be Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation, Fuman Selz, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and Schroder & Co. Inc.

“Very stringent securities laws are involved in this type of thing,” said ASC spokesman Skip King. “(Between the filing and effective date) is a quiet period when the company cannot make any statements on the offering.”

The SEC can delay approval if they feel the quiet period has been violated, he said.

The stock proceeds will be used to fund the acquisition of Heavenly and Steamboat and other real estate properties owned by Kamori International Corporation as well as to repay other debts.

ASC announced on July 31 an agreement with Kamori to buy the properties for $288.3 million. The purchase is expected to be completed in October and will make ASC the largest operator of Alpine ski resorts in the United States.

”I think it’s long overdue,” Daniel Noll, an analyst with The Chapman Co. in Baltimore, said of ASC plans to go public. ”I’ve been waiting for them to do this since Vail did its public offering.”

Vail Resorts Inc., the dominant ski resort operator in the West, went public in February of this year, raising $266 million. Noll said the stock sale helped Vail, which has also been on an acquisition spree, get rid of some of its debt, and plan for future expansion.

”One similarity is both companies are acquiring other areas at a rapid rate,” Noll said. ”I don’t know what American’s balance sheet looks like … but I’ve got to believe they’re so heavily leveraged … stocks are about the only way for them to go.”

The American Skiing Co., based in Newry, Maine, was formed a year ago when SKI Ltd. merged in a $104 million deal with Les Otten’s LBO Enterprises. Otten is now the chairman of American Skiing Co.

In addition to its newest purchases – Heavenly in California, the Canyons ski area in Utah and Steamboat Springs in Colorado – the company owns Killington, Pico, Sugarbush and Mount Snow-Haystack in Vermont; Attitash in New Hampshire, and Sunday River and Sugarloaf USA in Maine.

Two of its holdings – Steamboat Springs and Killington – rank consecutively as the fourth and fifth largest resorts in the United States.

More than 3.5 million people visited American Skiing’s resorts last season, according to the National Ski Areas Association. The company has a year-round payroll of about 1,000 that swells to 7,000 during the winter.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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