American Skiing misses debt deadline

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— American Skiing Co.'s stock dropped to an all-time low of 72 cents per share Friday after the company failed to issue a statement about whether it can restructure its debt.

The stock has lost 25 percent of its value within a week. American Skiing is the parent company of the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

A deadline came and went Thursday with no word from the ski resort operator, which was expected to report whether it could work out a settlement with its lenders on its technical default of $85 million.

Failure to work out a settlement could lead to an avalanche of financial problems for

the company.

American Skiing has amassed $400 million in debt, and has yet to earn an annual profit since going public in late 1997.

American Skiing announced May 30 its intent to sell the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. as part of a plan to get out from under that debt.

Company spokesman Skip King said the company had nothing to announce Thursday but might make a statement in the near future.

He declined to be more specific and could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

ASC's Chief Executive Officer B.J. Fair discussed the company's efforts to restructure its debt during a conference call to announce the third quarter earnings report June 15.

"Substantial progress has been made on negotiating amendments to our key debt facilities and securing an additional capital infusion," Fair said. "However those negotiations are not yet complete."

Bond analyst Phelps Hoyt of KDP Investments in Montpelier, Vt., reacted to ASC's efforts to secure more working capital by saying it would probably only reduce shareholder value further. ASC announced earnings per share of 19 cents for the third quarter this month.

That compares to 42 cents for the same period a year ago.

The company revealed earlier this month that it was in default on the debt because it had failed to meet earnings requirements in the terms of the loan.

The lenders granted a one-month extension on May 15 and a two-week extension on June 14, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while negotiations continued.

The company's filings said that if the lenders demanded accelerated payment of the debt, the company would default on operating loans, financing for its resort properties operations and construction loans.

If that happens, American Skiing would have to try to renegotiate the terms of the loans, sell assets, refinance its debt, sell additional stock or corporate bonds, or pursue ''any other alternatives available to us under the law,'' presumably including seeking protection from creditors under bankruptcy laws.

ASC has engaged Credit Suisse First Boston to market the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. to potential buyers.

Fair said June 15 he was encouraged by the variety of potential buyers who had inquired.

American Skiing resorts include Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA in Maine; Killington, Mount Snow and Sugarbush in Vermont; Attitash Bear Peak in New Hampshire; The Canyons in Utah and Heavenly in California and Nevada.

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