Vail Resorts expands in Europe with planned takeover of Swiss resort

A snowboarder glides through the powdery snow of the Gurschen glacier above Andermatt in central Switzerland. Vail Resorts has reached an agreement to purchase a majority stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG from Andermatt Swiss Alps AG, marking the company’s first strategic investment in a ski resort in Europe.
Urs Flueler/AP

Vail Resorts is expanding in Europe. The operator of 40 resorts across North America and Australia announced on Sunday evening that it had reached an agreement to buy a majority stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG from Andermatt Swiss Alps AG, marking the first strategic investment of the Colorado-based company at a ski resort. in Europe.

Andermatt-Sedrun is a famous ski resort in central Switzerland, located less than 90 minutes from three of Switzerland’s main metropolitan areas – Zurich, Lucerne and Lugano – and about two hours from Milan, Italy.

The move comes just days after Vail Resorts chief operating officer Michael Barkin said in a formal investor presentation that the company will continue to focus its capital allocation on more acquisitions.

According to a press release, Vail Resorts is acquiring a 55% stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG, which controls and operates all of the resort’s mountain and ski assets, including ski lifts, most restaurants and a school. ski. . ASA will retain a 40% stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG, with a group of existing shareholders holding the remaining 5%.

“Entering the European ski market is a long-term strategic priority for Vail Resorts,” Kirsten Lynch, CEO of Vail Resorts, said in the company’s statement. “We are delighted to partner with ASA and invest our capital and resources to support the continued development of Andermatt-Sedrun into one of the premier alpine destination resorts in Europe, with integrated operations in ski lifts, catering and ski school.”

Vail Resorts said in its statement that Andermatt-Sedrun is one of the most ambitious resort development opportunities in Europe. Since its initial investment in the station in 2007, ASA majority shareholder Samih Sawiris has invested the equivalent of nearly $1.4 billion in the surrounding base area and more than $160 million in the ski resort, creating one of the leading luxury resorts in Switzerland. ASA’s significant investments in high-end accommodation in the base area include The Chedi Andermatt, a world-class 5-star luxury hotel, the Radisson Blu Reussen, luxury condos, studios and apartments, as well as the development of a concert hall, an 18 championship golf course and three Michelin star restaurants.

Vail Resorts’ investment – approximately $160 million – includes an investment of nearly $118 million in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG to be used in capital investments to improve the guest experience on the mountain and an investment of nearly $42 million that will be donated to ASA and fully reinvested in base real estate developments. Vail Resorts will assume operational and marketing responsibility for Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG, with ASA and local stakeholders remaining key board members.

“The significant investments that ASA and the Sawiris family have made in both the base area and the mountain have created a premium experience with significant capacity for growth from guests from Switzerland, the UK Uni, other parts of Europe and around the world,” Lynch added. “We plan to rely heavily on our partners, community members and the Andermatt-Sedrun team and learn of these as we gain experience and understanding of the station, its customers and its operations.

She continued, “We are proud to add this incredible Swiss destination to our network of world-class resorts and welcome Vail Epic Pass, Epic Day Pass and Epic Local Pass holders. Resorts to experience the charming villages, alpine terrain and extensive resort amenities. as we seek to create an even stronger offering for skiers and boarders in Europe.

The SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun offers over 74 miles of varied terrain and a maximum altitude of 3,000 meters through the mountains of Andermatt, Sedrun and Gemsstock, with connected access to Disentis which is independently owned. The ski area stretches over 10 miles of scenic alpine terrain between Andermatt and Sedrun, including the iconic Oberalp Pass, and is connected by the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn which operates all year round.

Vail Resorts’ capital investment will be used for strategic projects that will significantly improve the guest experience by increasing uphill capacity with elevator upgrades and replacements; improving the quality of the snow surface through improvements in artificial snowmaking; and upgrades and expansions to mountain food outlets. The partners plan to work closely with local municipalities and stakeholders on capital investment plans to obtain necessary approvals and permits for resort improvements.

“Vail Resorts is the perfect partner for our goal of making Andermatt the premier alpine destination,” said Samih Sawiris, majority owner of ASA. “With Vail Resorts’ additional capital investment in the resort, its deep expertise in successful integrated mountain destination operations, and the destination’s impressive marketing capabilities and customer reach, Vail Resorts will give a significant boost to the development of Andermatt-Sedrun.”

The transaction is expected to close prior to the 2022-23 ski and touring season, subject to certain third party consents. Subject to the timing of the closure, Vail Resorts plans to include unlimited, unrestricted access to Andermatt-Sedrun on Epic Pass 2022-23. Epic Day Pass holders with All Resorts Access will be able to use any of their days in Andermatt, and Epic Local Pass holders will receive five days of unlimited access to the resort. The Epic Pass also offers European access to partner resorts, including five days at Verbier4Vallées in Switzerland, seven days at Les 3 Vallées in France, seven days at Skirama Dolomiti in Italy and three days at Ski Arlberg in Austria, with specific details available. on

Subject to closing adjustments, the pre-investment valuation for the entire resort is expected to exceed $230 million, including nearly $58 million of debt that will remain in place, with Vail Resorts acquiring a 55 %.

This story will be updated.