Vail Resorts ups ante for The Canyons |

Vail Resorts ups ante for The Canyons

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Another suitor has declared its intentions to buy The Canyons.

Vail Resorts, Inc., claims it was working on a deal with American Skiing Company prior to an offer from Talisker Corp. Vail has offered to pay ASC $110 million for The Canyons.

On Friday, officials at Vail also asked a district court judge in Colorado to intervene and issue a temporary restraining order to prevent American Skiing Co. from selling The Canyons to Talisker Corp., a Canadian developer with projects in Deer Valley, for $100 million.

"The case involves a blatant conspiracy by [Peninsula Advisors] and Talisker to thwart Vail’s ability to obtain extremely valuable and unique rights to own, develop and operate The Canyons ski resort and surrounding real estate in Park City, Utah," a lawsuit filed Friday by Vail Resorts against Peninsula Advisors, Talisker Corporation, Talisker Canyons Finance Co., American Skiing Co. and The Canyons states.

Peninsula Advisors principal Mark Robbins has expressed interest in buying about 2,000 acres at the resort.

"In response to the Talisker [offer,] Vail Resorts is making a superior offer to ASC for [The Canyons,]" a document filed Friday by Vail Resorts, Inc., with the Securities and Exchange Commission states.

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In a July 27 letter to American Skiing Co. Chairman of the Board Steven Gruber, Vail Resorts CEO Robert Katz expresses "surprise and disappointment at the decision by the board of American Skiing Company to enter into a contract for the sale of [The Canyons] to an affiliate of Talisker Corporation."

Katz indicates in his letter that Vail had worked with the group Peninsula Advisors to buy the resort until "certain actions by Peninsula."

When publicly traded Vail Resorts was ready to purchase The Canyons on July 10, "ASC informed us that it had received a letter from Peninsula inexplicably threatening legal action against ASC if the deal went forward."

But Katz claims the allegations from Peninsula Advisors against ASC are "baseless." He adds in his letter that Vail "offered to indemnify and protect ASC in the event Peninsula tried to stop our deal."

"Immediately following those discussions, ASC announced that it had entered into an agreement with Talisker," Katz states in the letter.

This week, Vail Resorts sued "to protect our rights which may, in fact, preclude Talisker from proceeding with [The Canyons] transaction," according to Katz.

"ASC entered into a definitive agreement with Talisker to sell the resort," responded Tim Vetter, a vice president at The Canyons. "And, we honor our commitments."

But officials at Vail claim "ASC’s board may not be fully aware of Talisker’s activities leading up to this potential transaction."

"In addition, we remain concerned about the ASC board’s lack of engagement with Vail Resorts to ascertain whether a transaction more favorable to ASC could have been reached with our company," according to Katz.

Meanwhile, Peninsula Advisors spokesman Josh Ewing wouldn’t comment about Vail’s allegations when reached Friday afternoon.

"[Peninsula is] carefully assessing the legal landscape," Ewing said.

As Park City-based American Skiing Co. dissolves, ASC officials are trying to sell their last resort to Talisker Corp. But Wolf Mountain Resorts Managing Partner Kenny Griswold, who owns most of the land at The Canyons, which he leases to American Skiing Co., must provide his written consent before The Canyons is sold, according to the resort lease.