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Vail Resorts extends ski season with deal to buy Aussie ski resort

To match feature FINANCIAL-USA/SKIINGTo match feature FINANCIAL-USA/SKIING

U.S. ski resort operator Vail Resorts has carved out a deal that could help its customers extend the ski season all year long.

The company said Monday it has agreed to buy Australia’s Perisher Ski Resort for $136 million in what will be Vail Resort’s first overseas expansion. Perisher, based in New South Wales, is the largest ski resort in the southern hemisphere, where the winter season coincides with summer for those of us on the northern half of the planet. The Aussie resort has about 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, according to Vail Resorts (MTN).

Once the acquisition is finalized, Vail Resorts said, customers who buy one of its seasonal passes — which offer unlimited access across several of the company’s roughly a dozen U.S.-based resorts — will be able to use those passes at Perisher from June through October, the Aussie resort’s winter season. A similar offer will be available to Perisher seasonal pass owners looking to ski in the U.S. from November through April, which would mean an 11-month ski season.

“This acquisition is part of Vail Resorts’ continued strategy to drive season pass sales and build loyalty with guests from around the world,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said in a statement. “Australia is one of the most important international markets for ski resorts across the Northern Hemisphere, generating an estimated more than 1 million skier visits annually to resorts in North America, Japan and Europe.”

Earlier this month, Vail Resorts said its profits for the fiscal quarter ending in January nearly doubled, to $115.8 million, thanks in part to a nearly 21% bump in season pass sales. The company’s stock was up slightly on Monday and has gained nearly 45% over the past year.

The acquisition of Perisher The company said Monday that it expects Perisher to generate about $6 million in free cash flow in its first year after the acquisition is completed, not including the cost of upgrades, taxes and interest related to the deal.

While Monday’s deal represents Vail Resorts’ first international acquisition, the company has been on a bit of a spending spree in recent years, including a $183 million deal to buy Park City Mountain Resort in Utah just last September. That deal followed the 2012 purchase of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, in California’s Sierra Mountains, for $18 million.

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