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Selling a Business, Consumer, Family Business, Resort, Strategic Advisory

Resort M&A Market Update

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1.  Real estate speculation may be making a bit of a rebound. Based upon the bidders who were interested in purchasing Moonlight Basin in Montana, it appears that distressed land at ski resorts, with  the potential to attract affluent recreation home buyers, has piqued interest at shops with capital to invest. Add to that the recent sale of Powder Mountain, Utah, which was funded by simultaneous sales of home lots to future full time residents interested in creating a work/residential environment, and it appears that real estate may make a comeback at cold weather resorts.

Early in the game? Yes, definitely. In the East, developments are done in small developments. Vermont and Maine are seeing some eight to 12 unit developments in the ground. These are all subject to a pre-sale requirement of at least 50% of the available units. Construction lending is available, generally regionally. Equity to cost is in the 65% -70% range.

2.  Resort sales are robust for the market size. Holihan Lokey is offering two California ski areas for sale and has implemented a screening process to filter those buyers who are not considered to be in the target price range. The Moonlight Basin sale mentioned above, and its neighbor Spanish Peaks, saw a strong bidder interest by ski resort operators and real estate developers, alike. There is bank financing available at somewhere between 50% – 60% L-T-V. Rates are  typically in the 8.5% and up range. Transactions are expected to trade in the five to seven times EBITDA range. There have been a series of transactions around small areas this year: Vail purchased two mid-western areas; a long-closed area outside Traverse City, MI, is under contract to re-open; Pennsylvania saw two small areas go to local investors; as did Greek Peak in Central New York State.

3.  Early season has created interest in skiing and riding, especially in the Pacific North West. Crystal opened for a brief period in early October on a significant snowfall with Stevens Pass following right behind. Colorado areas are making snow; Sunday River tested its guns. This coming weekend is when the last of the season pass reduced-rate opportunities expire.

Here’s  to a successful season for all.

Mike Krongel is Director of Mirus Resort Capital. Mirus Resort Capital advises business owners, investors, and management teams on the acquisition, sale, valuation, and recapitalization of cold weather resorts, day ski areas, golf resorts, and equipment suppliers to the resort industry. Our team develops the most appropriate execution strategy, structuring transactions to meet the unique objectives of our clients. With local market knowledge as well as an international investor reach, our senior investment bankers can access the leading public, private, and institutional investors and lenders – including traditional real estate investors as well as firms with a primary interest in operating companies. Contact Mike Krongel for more information.