By ROBERT WELLER, Associated Press Writer
DENVER (AP) - American Skiing Co. has agreed to sell its Steamboat Springs ski resort to Triple Peaks LLC for $91.4 million.
Triple Peaks is a consortium of investors led by Tim and Diane Mueller, owners of Vermont's Okemo Mountain Resort and operators of Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire.
Steamboat Springs is 150 miles northwest of Denver.
American Skiing Co.'s Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center will not be included in the sale, which is set to close in March.
The sale of Steamboat and associated real estate provides a badly needed cash infusion for Newry, Maine-based American Skiing.
American Skiing's fortunes declined when an ambitious expansion program ran into a decline in skier and snowboarder numbers. It has been reeling with losses of $180 million over the past two quarters.
``The sale of Steamboat is a fundamental component of the restructuring plan for the company,'' said B.J. Fair, president and CEO of American Skiing Co. ``The closing of this sale will be a major milestone, will significantly reduce our debt and allow us to focus on our core business going forward.''
Shares of American Skiing, which are in danger of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, rose 2 cents to 43 cents in afternoon trading.
Diane Mueller said, ``We feel that Okemo, Mount Sunapee and Steamboat complement each other. They are the best in their individual markets and each resort will build upon the attributes of the mountain and community.''
Last month, Moody's Investors Service Inc. downgraded American Skiing's credit rating for the company, saying a reduction in skier visits after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is adding to the company's troubled outlook.
Steamboat, with nearly 3,000 acres and 25 lifts, is almost six times larger than Okemo. It draws a little more than 1 million skier visits a year.
It is the second time this week an icon of Colorado skiing has been handed to a new operator. Intrawest Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, cut a deal with the city of Denver to run Winter Park.
On the Net:
Okemo Mountain Resort
American Skiing Co.