explorebigsky.com staff writer

A federal court this week approved a settlement and restructuring plan between Lehman Brothers and Moonlight Basin. Lehman Brothers, a New York-based investment bank will take over ownership of the eight-year-old resort in Big Sky. Moonlight’s founder, Lee Poole, will move on to other ventures.

This is big news for Moonlight, which employs hundreds of people from Big Sky, Bozeman, Ennis and West Yellowstone seasonally.

Moonlight’s employees and loyal skiers have long been waiting for closure on the bankruptcy case, which will help the company move forward.

This marks the completion of three years of court battles between the two companies. Moonlights original loans were from Lehman Brothers; $170 million of those were due to be repaid in 2008, but the resort was unable to pay most of that. Lehman claimed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008. Moonlight went into Chapter 11 a year later.

The closing date for the final agreement is expected to be December or early January. Going forward, Lehman should bring Moonlight out of bankruptcy.

Moonlight Basin plans to open and operate for the 2011-2012 skiing season. The settlement should help the resort stay open into the foreseeable future.

This season will be the first time the resort runs its own lodging operations and as well as the restaurant in the Moonlight Lodge. Season pass sales are up approximately 20 percent over last season.