Mountain-resorts titan buys two Australian properties with MinterEllison’s aid

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MinterEllison provided the legal expertise needed by an American mountain-resorts titan to buy two iconic Australian ski resorts.

The firm advised New York-listed Vail Resorts on its $174m acquisition of Falls Creek Alpine Resorts and Hotham Alpine Resort from Living and Leisure Australia Group, a subsidiary of Merlin Entertainments.

“It's been exciting to work on this complex and transformative deal for the Victorian ski community, and help strengthen Vail Resorts’ footprint in Australia," said David Moore, MinterEllison's lead partner. “These iconic Australian ski resorts will be in great hands, with Vail Resorts having a proven track record of investing heavily in and developing world-class resorts and their communities.”

The MinterEllison team also included special counsel Simon Cooper, as well as senior associates Sarah Hampson and Mellissa Lai. MinterEllison said that the complex deal required its broad expertise, knowledge base, and relationships in areas that include competition, foreign investment, tax, environment and planning, and intellectual property.

Vail has 15 mountain resorts and three urban skiing operations. It already operates Perisher Ski Resort in New South Wales.

Falls Creek is Victoria’s largest ski resort. Hotham is the only resort in the Southern Hemisphere with the village located on the mountaintop.

The acquisition, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close before June 2019, when the Australian snow season begins. The deal includes ski school, retail/rental, reservations, and property management operations at both resorts. Upon completion, Falls Creek and Hotham will join the Vail’s Epic Passes program, which gives access to world-class resorts in the US, Canada, Japan and Australia.