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Stowe Mountain on the Sales Block?

Stowe Mountain on the Sales Block?

With the $85 billion bailout of AIG, Stowe is currently owned by the government. But for how long?
By Chris Hawkins
posted: 10/06/2008

Two big uncertainties face Stowe Mountain Resort this winter. The obvious: Will Mother Nature deliver the white goods like it did last year? And the not so obvious: Who will ultimately own the resort?



The resort’s troubled parent company, American International Group Inc. (AIG) recently received an $85 billion loan from the Federal Reserve to help cover losses resulting from insuring mortgage-backed securities and other risky investments. To pay back the loan, AIG agreed to sell some of its assets.



In an audio webcast Friday morning, AIG’s CEO Edward M. Liddy said his company will retain its U.S. property and casualty operations and its foreign insurance operations. But that it “is exploring divestiture opportunities for its remaining high quality business assets.”



This means selling its non-insurance subsidiaries like Stowe Mountain. But even that prospect is uncertain as Liddy spoke in generalities saying only they would “sell as many assets as needed to pay [their] obligations.”



Despite the uncertainty, it’s “business as usual” according to Jeff Wise, Stowe Mountain Resort’s Communications Director. Staff levels remain unaffected and the resort has “good momentum” with the opening of Spruce Peak base camp and the recently opened Stowe Mountain Lodge.



“Pass sales are at or above levels from last year,” said Wise who anticipates a better season than last year as long as good snow falls.



Chris Francis, President of the Stowe Area Association and owner of Ye Old England Inne, is also optimistic about Stowe’s future but wary of whose hands the resort would fall into. “Should a sale take place, the community at large will be very concerned,” said Francis. “Will the buyer continue to focus on the high-end of the market?”



With the $400 million investment at Spruce Peak and its luxury accommodations it seems the eventual resort owner, whoever it is, would continue business as usual. But these days it’s hard to predict how a company will operate. Forecasting the weather may be easier.



Stay tuned to SkiNet for any news regarding the AIG/Stowe fallout.

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