The owners of the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky Resort have come to an agreement with Lehman Brothers Holdings to buy Moonlight Basin ski resort.
CrossHarbor Capital Partners and Boyne Resorts announced in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon that the move is “the next step in the creation of one of the largest and most compelling mountain resort experiences in North America.” The two plan to combine the ski operations of Big Sky Resort and Moonlight — which have operated on opposite sides of the 11,166-foot peak of Lone Mountain — to create a ski resort with more than 5,700 skiable acres, 4,350 vertical feet and 23 chairlifts.
Rumored since earlier this year, the deal is expected to finalize during the next several weeks. Greg Hitt, a spokesman with CrossHarbor, declined to provide further details on the deal, including the purchase price.
The two companies partnered earlier in the summer to purchase neighboring Big Sky area resort Spanish Peaks out of bankruptcy for $26.1 million. Future development across the three southern Gallatin County resorts will be coordinated and aimed to promote economic stability and growth and follow a path of stewardship and environmental sensitivity, according to the statement from the two companies.
“This investment is another important step forward for Big Sky and underscores the strength of our new partnership with Boyne Resorts,” CrossHarbor managing partner Sam Byrne stated in the release. “The investment also reflects the broader potential we see for the region and sets the foundation for long-term growth.”
Moonlight’s purchase by its neighboring resorts ends a stretch of uncertainty that began in 2008.
Lehman Brothers financial troubles at the onset of the recent recession spurred trouble between it and Moonlight, as the investment bank demanded the Montana resort repay an entire multi-million dollar loan, with interest, several months after Lehman itself went bankrupt in 2008. A year later, Moonlight itself filed for bankruptcy, after Lehman foreclosed on the outstanding $170 million loan, for which the resort had put up its lodge, spa, golf course and several other aspects of its operations as collateral.
Shortly after, Lehman loaned the resort another $24 million to continue operating while the bankruptcy played out in federal court. Operating what was designed as a luxury resort for about 18 months on $24 million forced the Moonlight staff to trim operations and change its focus from real estate development to one that emphasized enjoying the snow on the mountain.
In January 2012, Lehman purchased Moonlight out of bankruptcy and turned over its management to Alvarez & Marshal, a firm that oversees Lehman’s real estate. The New York-based bank operated Moonlight with the understanding that it would continue searching for a buyer.
Jason Bacaj may be reached at email@example.com or 582-2635.