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Whistler's Intrawest on auction block: 'business as usual'

Whistler skiers and snowboarders line up for the gondola

VANCOUVER — Intrawest ULC, the owner of Whistler-Blackcomb, says it’s “business as usual” and that its parent, Fortress Investment Group, “continues to own and control Intrawest and all of its properties.”

“Serious discussions with Intrawest’s lenders are ongoing regarding refinancing and the Company continues to operate ‘business as usual’ at all of its resort properties,” Intrawest said in a news release. “Intrawest is looking forward to the success of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

The release came after ads appeared in major newspapers on Tuesday announcing that lenders represented by Wilmington Trust FSB would conduct a public auction to sell their interest in the company.

That auction is scheduled to take place on Feb. 19, while Whistler-Blackcomb hosts many of the events for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Creditors of Fortress, a New-York based private equity and hedge fund, are having the auction after Fortress failed to make a the final payment on a $1.7-billion loan used by Fortress to buy Intrawest.

Vanoc said Whistler-Blackcomb would still be ready to host the Olympics starting Feb. 12.

“We understandably cannot comment on Intrawest’s finances beyond our continued support for their efforts to settle outstanding financial matters,” Dan Doyle, Vanoc’s executive vice-president of construction, said in a written statement. “What we can confirm is that Whistler Blackcomb is an important partner in the staging of the 2010 Games and we continue working in very close partnership with them to finalize overall preparations and readiness for the skiing and sliding sport events.

“We look forward, with them, to welcoming the world in 23 days.” Doyle said.

In addition to Whistler Blackcomb, Intrawest owns three other ski resorts in Canada and seven in the United States.

Fortress paid $2.8 billion US, including the assumption of debt, for Intrawest in 2006.

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