Embroiled in a scandal over how it allocated green cards to foreign investors, a sale of Jay’s Peak is imminent, reports the Burlington Free Press. The transaction process is now in the hands of a federal receiver (basically a government agent who steps in to handle such things once wrongdoing has been proven).
Given how deeply the currents of consolidation run in today’s ski industry, how many buyers could possibly be in play? According to Unofficial, there are pretty much four ways this is all likely to shake out.
1. Vail buys Jay Peak
Just announced: @VailResorts commits $175 million to $180
million in capital investments to reimagine the guest experience for the
2019-20 season. Dive deep into the projects, including the debut of new
on-mountain technology here : https://t.co/rPbZHR9jxY pic.twitter.com/qZCEIedPe2
— VailResorts (@VailResorts) December 7, 2018
The original big box store for the ski experience, Vail Resorts will almost certainly take a look at its options for purchasing Jay Peak. It spent $50 million in 2017 to purchase Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort to establish a foothold in the east. Or will owning another Vermont resort less than 60 miles from Jay Peak discourage the big mountain behemoth from purchasing another? With lackluster earnings reports as of late, the company has taken it on the chin in the stock market and may be less willing to over-extend itself with another buy.
2. Alterra buys Jay Peak
Alterra, the mountain megazord formed by the fusion of Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners, is the next obvious choice. Like Vail, Alterra Mountain Company already has an opening in Vermont, though Stratton and Jay Peak are separated by some 180 miles, as opposed to the nearly 60 separating Vail’s Stowe and Jay Peak. Also like Vail, it has a pass locked in the struggle global ski and ride domination: the Ikon Pass. But the question remains, if you buy into the “Walmart vs. Costco explanation” of two competing giants’ strategies, does Jay Peak fit in with Alterra’s strategy of higher-end offerings?
3. Peak Pass Steps in for the steal as independent buyer steps up…
— Peak Pass (@ThePeakPass) December 1, 2018
Vail and Alterra may be a big deal around the world of snowsports, but the Northeast is also the backyard of Peak Pass. Offering access to 10 resorts in the region for less than $500, Peak Pass has every reason to shore up its dominance on the Ice Coast. The question we have is: could an independent buyer come out of the woodwork and form a partnership with Peak Pass? According to the company’s own end-of-year filings, though pass sales were up around 20 percent, Peak Pass has only $6.4 million in cash on hand to go with its $180.3 million in outstanding debt, meaning they’d need a outside investor to get involved directly with resort operations.
Though consolidation in the sky industry is a strong trend, it’s far from running its full course. Powdr Corporation and EPR Properties both own resorts in the Northeast, including one of the region’s largest resorts: Killington. This shows Vermont is far from a no-go zone when it comes to overall corporate strategy. There are also millionaires, billionaires, and private equity groups to consider. Who knows, maybe there’s a billionaire thinking about how Jay Peak was where he donned his first edgy-wedgy and wouldn’t it be nice to own it own it one day.
Whoever the buyer turns out to be, it looks like we won’t have to wait long to find out. In the meantime, read the full story from the Burlington Free Press here and feel free to speculate wildly.