Introduces new management group

By Taylor Anderson, ExploreBigSky.com Assistant Editor

Officials at Moonlight Basin Resort announced today that after months of wading through a three-way Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers Holdings has obtained full ownership of the resort.

The news has been more than a year in the making, and marks the completion of an ownership battle that now officially transfers ownership from Moonlight Basin and former owner Lee Poole, to the Lehman Brothers affiliate.

Lehman Brothers has effectively owned the ski and golf resort since Oct. 26, when the resort announced it had reached a settement in court. There were more proceedings, however, and the groups needed to settle with a list of hundreds of creditors.

All secured creditors and 90 percent unsecured, convenient (less than $10,000 owed) will receive payment in full from Lehman. The other 10 percent due more than $10,000 will receive a portion, according to Moonlight’s chief operating officer Russ McElyea.

“That could be changed depending if others give claim,” McElyea said. “Right now under the plan they’re getting paid 68 percent of money owed.”

The announcement marks the official takeover from Lehman of all resort operations, and eliminates Poole from the process.

In a letter to stakeholders, McElyea announced the takeover of management by the Atira Group, a Colorado-based group specializing in ski and golf resort management.

Gerry Engle, founding principal of Atira, spoke on the phone from Atlanta about his company’s involvement.

“The hardest thing in the world is we’re going through one of the toughest real estate time in recent memory,” Engle said.

He said that Moonlight’s lack of unfilled houses make it a great place to start managing.

“There’s a committed group of owners there. Now you’ve got a new ownership team with Atira and the team that’s already there,” he said.

McElyea and the Moonlight administrative employees will begin work Friday for the same company with a new name: Moonlight Basin Management, LLC.

But there is work yet to be completed in court both by Moonlight and Lehman, as both are still operating under Chapter 11.

Part of recent proceedings has been the legal transfer of assets from Moonlight to Lehman, McElyea said.

“Lehman pays Lee (Poole) a certain amount of money, then everyone releases” control of assets, McElyea said.

The groups, formed together under Moonlight Basin Management, will work together starting Jan. 23, on long term, strategic plans and budgets to get the company moving forward under the new ownership.

“From here on out they go through winding up processes like we’re doing,” he said. “Getting people paid, assets transferred, administrative things. When that’s complete then you go to the court and say we did everything we needed to get done under the (bankruptcy) plan.”