Steamboat owner Intrawest files for $100 million IPO with eye on acquisitions |

Steamboat owner Intrawest files for $100 million IPO with eye on acquisitions

— Intrawest, the parent company of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and operator of nearby Winter Park Resort, has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to regain its stature as a publicly held company through a $100 million stock offering.

Intrawest — formerly based in Vancouver, British Columbia — previously was a public company until 2006 when it was purchased by Fortress Investment Group, which subsequently took the company private. Intrawest relocated to Denver in 2011. Its CEO is Bill Jensen.

Intrawest closed on the purchase of Steamboat Ski Area for $265 million in March 2007.

The company is close to completing one its most tangible improvements from the perspective of the skiing public late this year with the construction of the $5 million-plus Four Points Lodge at 9,700 feet at Steamboat Ski Area.

Returns from the initial public offering could provide working capital as well as "potential investments in, and acquisitions of, ski and adventure travel businesses and assets," according to the filing with the SEC.

An article in The Denver Post cited the SEC filing in saying Intrawest is looking for acquisition opportunities: “The North American ski industry is highly fragmented, with approximately 753 ski areas in North America, of which fewer than 10 percent are owned by multi-resort operators who operate four or more ski resorts. The adventure travel industry is similarly fragmented,” said Intrawest in its filing. “We intend to evaluate acquisition opportunities where the opportunity would provide a strategic fit within our existing portfolio of businesses. We believe that opportunistically acquiring additional mountain resorts that are proximate to our existing resorts will enable us to enhance product and operational synergies.”

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The filing does not anticipate a specific share price. Intrawest intends for its shares to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Jensen told a Steamboat audience in February 2012 that much has changed at Intrawest since it moved in 2011 to the 18th Street Atrium in lower downtown Denver.

Intrawest employed 3,500 year-round workers and 13,000 seasonal employees at that time, but the headquarters staff had shrunk from 750 in Vancouver in 2008 to about 100 in Denver. The company manages a significant number of vacation rooms allowing it to do 700,000 room nights annually, Jensen said in early 2012.

Intrawest took the flagship Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort public in 2010 to pay down debt, and it retains a minority ownership. 

Jensen also said in 2012 that Steamboat Ski Area has a very high net promoter score — a measure of how likely existing customers are to recommend a company to a friend — and that Intrawest's goal is to continue building on those positive responses from guests.

In addition to Winter Park and Steamboat, the company operates Mount Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont and Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia. Intrawest also owns a half-interest in Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario.

"We're very brand-focused," Jensen said. "Steamboat's is among the most powerful in the ski industry. But Snowshoe and Stratton are also very strong brands within their regions."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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