Heavenly sale finalized | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly sale finalized

Sally J. Taylor

American Skiing Corporation may have become king of the ski hill late Wednesday with the completion of its purchase of Heavenly Ski Resort and other American holdings of Kamori International Corporation.

The $288.3 million package purchase agreement – signed on July 31 – also included Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado and Sabal Point Point Country Club near Orlando, Fla.

Kamori bought Steamboat in 1989 for a reported $110 million. A year later, the Sapporo City, Japan-based corporation purchased Heavenly for an undisclosed from an ownership group headed by Bill Killebrew, whose family held majority ownership in the resort since 1964.

The addition of Heavenly and Steamboat to ASC’s nine east coast resorts could push the company to the top of ski corporations in terms of visitors days at its resorts.

“We’re doing this because we love the sport,” said American Skiing Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Leslie B. Otten in announcing the close of the sale. “This is a great opportunity for our company to bring the greatest outdoor recreational activity ever imagined to Americans. If you ever thought you didn’t like winter, it’s time you learned to ski. And if you want to experience the thrill of speed without a motor, come join us this winter and live in the outside.”

Sources close to Heavenly said the resort’s opening of Patsy’s run Oct. 25 reflect Otten’s enthusiastic resort management style. The move generated nationwide publicity for Heavenly becoming the first ski resort to open in the Western United States even though the resort was forced to shut down the run several days later. The resort is considering re-opening at least one run this weekend, if weather conditions permit.

American Skiing now owns and operates at least one resort located in each major United States skiing market. Combined, the resorts generated approximately 4.9 million skier and snowboarder visits in the 1997-97 ski season, more than 9 percent of the U.S. skier market for that year.

Beginning about five years ago, American Skiing Company joined the list of ski organizations buying up ski resorts.

We chose to take an “active rather than a passive roll,” Otten said in a previous interview.

In 1996, Otten created American Skiing Company with the acquisition of the S-K-I Ltd. and it’s northeastern resorts.

Besides Heavenly and Steamboat, American Skiing Company owns Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA Ski Resorts in Main, Attitash Bear Peak Ski Resort in New Hampshire, Killington/Pico, Mount Snow/Haystack and Sugarbush Ski Resorts in Vermont and The Canyons Ski Resort in Utah.

Company officials could not discuss future plans, including possible changes for Heavenly, due to a month-long quiet period required when a company goes public. ASC stocks went on the market Nov. 6.

In August, ASC officials did not expect the change of ownership to impact Heavenly’s Master Plan. The extensive expansion and renovation plan includes environmental improvements, additional ski runs, expansion and upgrade of facilities plus a gondola connecting the resort to the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project near Stateline.

ASC helped financed its purchase of Kamori’s holdings through a public sock offering last Thursday – with stocks opening at $18 a share. The company’s stock closed Tuesday at $15.75, a 4.91 percent drop for the day.

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