Deer Valley, Solitude operator Alterra raised $3 billion as ski industry stares down climate change
The owner of Alterra Mountain Co., which operates Deer Valley and Solitude, just raised $3 billion in investments, which could mean more resort construction and property acquisitions.
Why it matters: The fundraising success shows the ski industry is seen as financially viable despite its vulnerability to climate change.
Driving the news: KSL Partners, the $21 billion private equity firm that is Alterra's majority owner, recently announced that it completed a $3 billion continuation fund for the resort operator, whose properties also include Palisades at Tahoe, Steamboat in Colorado and Sugarbush in Vermont.
Of note: KSL Partners is unrelated to the Salt Lake TV station.
Between the lines: Continuation funds let PE firms maintain a portfolio company investment for a longer period than it normally would, while giving limited partners the opportunity to either reinvest or exit.
- In this case, KSL also brought in new investors.
- Proceeds will be used to continue building out existing properties, including hotels and villages, plus possible property acquisitions, reported Axios Pro Rata's Dan Primack.
The big picture: KSL cofounder Eric Resnick says Alterra has managed to offset rising temperatures with advanced snowmaking technologies and the introduction of the multisite, season-long Ikon Pass.
- The pass provides access to several Utah resorts.
What they're saying: "We're now able to make snow using less water, and at higher temperatures, and are able to move snow much more easily than we used to," Resnick said.
- Many resorts also hold water rights — an increasingly valuable asset.
Context: While climate change may threaten skiing in the long run, the sport has exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the National Ski Area Association show.
Of note: Companies like Alterra have benefited from the closures of smaller, family-run ski resorts that can't afford expensive snowmaking equipment — although Resnick notes that those declines have slowed or even stopped.
- Alterra recently announced plans to acquire Arapahoe Basin, Colorado's longtime holdout as an independent resort.
The bottom line: Private equity firms don't generally raise continuation funds for companies they expect to peter out soon.
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