Wolf Mountain says OK to Talisker | ParkRecord.com

Wolf Mountain says OK to Talisker

Patrick Parkinson and Nan Chalat Noaker

Wolf Mountain Resort Company and American Skiing Company took a step toward resolving some of their differences Friday. But Wolf Mountain attorney Bruce Moore warns, it removes just one of the hurdles in a complicated effort to turn The Canyons resort over to the real estate investment firm.

"It is a mere baby step in resolving all of the disputes between these parties," he said. American Skiing Company, however ,paints the late-night agreement in a more positive light.

"With receipt of consent from Wolf Mountain, one of the landlords at The Canyons, the closing of the sale of the resort to Talisker is now expected to occur in the immediate future, most likely during the next several weeks," states a press release from American Skiing.

The agreement was reached just days before the lawsuit brought by American Skiing and Talisker against Wolf Mountain was due to go to trial. Lawyers for the parties met with Third District Court Judge Robert Hilder in Salt Lake City Friday afternoon and negotiated for about five hours before reaching an agreement.

The settlement allows American Skiing Company to turn its lease and development rights over to Talisker.

However, Wolf Mountain managing member Kenneth Griswold emphasizes that his company still owns the land.

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"Wolf will continue as the Landlord of the Canyons. If Talisker can assemble the money necessary to close the transaction by May 31, 2008, and provide the money that Wolf has negotiated as necessary to operate the resort, then Talisker will replace the American Ski Company as the controlling company of the Tenant at the Canyons," said Griswold in Wolf Mountain’s press release about the same agreement.

In a telephone interview from his home in Los Angeles on Saturday, Griswold reiterated, "Wolf owns the land. It is in my children’s trust. We will be the owner for all eternity."

Specifically the settlement outlines a set of conditions under which Talisker Canyons Finance, a subsidiary of Talisker, will purchase the outstanding capital stock of ASC Utah. The court document lists the price of the stock as $100 million.

Talisker is also bound by the agreement "contribute $25 million in capital to ASC Utah."

Griswold says his initial intent in trying to block the sale to Talisker was to protect Wolf Mountain’s interests and to guarantee the financial well being of The Canyons. "The contract is key. The money has to be put into the resort immediately," he said.

In a separate lawsuit Vail Resorts claims it had submitted a prior offer to American Skiing Company and Wolf Mountain. Griswold has said he preferred to see the resort turned over to an experience ski resort operator, rather than a real estate investor. That lawsuit is still in the courts. Another pending lawsuit involves the Osguthorpe family that also owns land on which the ski resort operates.

But according to American Skiing Company president and CEO B.J. Fair, Talisker and the existing management at The Canyons are in a strong position to move forward.

"We believe Talisker is a tremendously well respected company and will be an excellent owner and operator of the resort for many years to come. The existing management and staff of The Canyons, combined with the resources and expertise of Talisker, create an exciting future for the resort and all of its customers," says Fair in the press release.