The internal shakeups at Intrawest ULC may have reached their peak as B.C.’s resort heavyweight announced its third CEO in just over two years.
Long-time CEO and founder Joe Houssian retired in November 2006, shortly after the company was bought by New York-based Fortress Investment Group LLC, a sale that took the company off the stock markets and gave it some deep pockets to draw from to acquire new resorts. Following the acquisition, the top job passed to high-profile board member Alex Wasilov, who at the time told BCBusiness, “I have personally committed, and my family have committed ourselves, to a future in Vancouver with Intrawest.”
Turns out that position was only meant to be temporary. Intrawest spokesperson Ian Galbraith now explains that Wasilov was only named CEO to oversee Intrawest’s transition and restructuring.
Wasilov remains on the Intrawest board, but the CEO title will pass to Bill Jensen this June. The top gun was recruited from Intrawest competitor Vail Resorts Inc., where he was COO.
There has been a string of other management changes at Intrawest since it was bought by Fortress, with a new CFO, chief marketing officer and HR director coming on board. It’s all part of a restructuring process that has been sorely needed in the company, says Galbraith.
With a new structure in place integrating Intrawest’s various operating divisions, plus the deep pockets of Fortress, the company is looking to grow its current resorts and buy more.
And that’s where Jensen fits in.
“He’s one of the most respected operators in the ski business,” says Will Marks, a resort analyst with JMP Securities LLC in San Francisco. “He has been very successful at Vail, helping the company improve its resorts, increase traffic and therefore grow revenues... This is a great move by Intrawest.”
Is the restructuring the run-up to a second IPO for Intrawest? The company won’t confirm it, but Galbraith says that if the company does emerge from restructuring to go public, Wasilov will have a hand in it.