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Fortress fall could hit Whistler-Blackcomb

A second Olympic venue may be singing the recession blues as a result of troubles at Fortress Investment Group.

Vancouver-based Intrawest, parent of Whistler-Blackcomb, faces a Thursday deadline for $1.68 billion in debt payments, according to a report in the Financial Times. Fortress bought Intrawest in 2005 for $2.8 billion.

Fortress Credit Corporation (a subsidiary) also holds a $750 million mortgage at the Southeast False Creek Olympic Village, which is more than $60 million over-budget.

Reuters reports:

People familiar with Fortress say there is a low probability Intrawest will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Financial Times said.

The paper quoted a portion of a letter sent to investors on October 3 which said, "We are engaged in constructive discussions with the balance of the lending group."

Fortress was not immediately available for comment.

New York-based Fortress controls Intrawest via a $1.37 billion equity stake. With Intrawest's debt trading at less than 70 cents on the dollar, Fortress has approached potential and existing lenders to discuss a refinancing involving $1.4 billion in senior debt, the Financial Times reported.

It is putting in an additional $100 million of capital to preserve its equity's value, but talks will be tricky since any member of the lending group can veto a deal, the paper said.

Fortress Investment Group is one of the few publicly traded managers of private equity and hedge funds

New York Stock Exchange-listed FIG peaked at $37 a share in 2007 and closed at $5.55 on Friday.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver's 24 Hours.

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