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Canyons sold to familiar face


Pat Donnelly
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<TABLE cellPadding=8 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width="100%"><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=bottom><TD width="44%">20050325_032046_PrintLogo.gif </TD><TD class=articleByline align=right width="56%">20050325_033514_PrintURL.gif</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><HR noShade SIZE=1></TD></TR><!-- overline--><!--title--><TR><TD class=articleTitle>Canyons sold to familiar face</TD></TR><!--subtitle--><TR><TD class=articleSubTitle>Talisker also developing property near Deer Valley</TD></TR><!--byline--><TR><TD class=articleByline>By Mike Gorrell

The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake Tribune</TD></TR><!--date--><TR><TD class=articleDate>Article Launched:07/17/2007 12:00:00 AM MDT</TD></TR><TR><TD height=10></TD></TR><TR><TD class=articleBody>The Canyons Resort, final vestige of the American Skiing Co. empire, will be sold for $100 million to the company that bought United Park City Mines and is converting its property along Deer Valley's fringes into a posh ski and golf development.

Talisker Canyons Finance Co. LLC, a subsidiary of the Toronto-based real estate development and investment company Talisker Corp., will buy the resort outside of Park City and all stock in American Skiing Co. Resort Properties, Inc., which has contractual rights and obligations involving The Canyons.

Talisker also is assuming responsibility for pending litigation in which the resort's former owner, Wolf Mountain, contends it should regain the property because American Skiing defaulted on a lease. That trial is projected to take place early next year in Park City's 3rd District Court.

In a related development, Scott Pierpont, general manager of The Canyons, resigned Monday "to pursue other opportunities," said David Hirasawa, American Skiing's director of financial analysis and investor relations.

Pierpont also is chairman of the 21-member board overseeing Ski Utah, marketing arm for the state's 13 active resorts. His future with the association "has yet to be determined," said Ski Utah spokeswoman Jessica Kunzer. "The board has really enjoyed working with Scott and he has a long history working with Ski Utah. Only time will tell."

The sale of The Canyons means American Skiing has disposed of all eight resorts under its control at the start of last ski season, raising $599 million used to pay off creditors. Those creditors included Oak Hill Capital Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm that was American Skiing's majority shareholder.

On June 21, when American Skiing filed papers to dissolve with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, company officials said The Canyons would continue to operate under Oak Hill as it has in the past.

There were no public indications a sale of The Canyons was imminent.

Chip Carey, American Skiing's senior vice president of marketing and sales, said Monday "the right offer came at the right time. It was an opportunistic sale . . . at a very good price."

He added that Talisker is a "power player in town," its Park City operations (technically Talisker Mountain Inc.) led by Jim Thompson, former president and chief executive of Vail Resorts Development Co.

"They're well thought of, good citizens, very successful," Carey said, optimistic Talisker can build on American Skiing's development of The Canyons. "We've taken The Canyons into the top 15 resorts in the United States in a very short period of time. They will be able to come in and complete the vision at a very high level. The growth will be spectacular. We're excited for the community about that."

Calls to Talisker and its public relations company were not returned Monday.

Talisker Deer Valley's Web site said Thompson was hired in February of 2006 to run the Utah operations, which began in 1999 and expanded with the 2003 acquisition of United Park City Mines.

The company created the Talisker Club, a private-membership club offering multimillion-dollar residential development opportunities in three communities adjacent to Deer Valley - Empire Pass, Tuhaye and Red Cloud.

Club members have access to an 18-hole course designed by Masters and British Open champion Mark O'Meara, Deer Valley's ski slopes, a mobile fly fishing clubhouse on the Weber River and a private ski-boat docked on Jordanelle Reservoir.

Thompson developed Vail Resort's real estate assets at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone ski resorts, its retail properties at two of them, and the company's employee housing program. He also redeveloped the company-owned Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club in Wyoming.

mikeg@sltrib.com

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