Taking Charge at Vail

If ever there was any doubt about who’s in control of the Vail, Colorado, ski resort, Dallas oilman Harry Bass has dispelled it. Bass just bought 400, 000 shares of Vail Associates stock for a cool $5.6 million cash. That transaction represents 40.5 percent of Vail’s stock, which, when added to the 15.5 percent previously owned by the Bass family, totals 56 percent control of the resort corporation.

Although Bass isn’t talking about why he decided to make a tender offer for 400,000 shares of Vail stock, there has been some speculation that his reason was to move Morgan Guaranty Trust of New York out of the Vail picture. Before Bass’ tender offer, which expired in early September, Morgan Guaranty controlled 12 percent of the Vail stock, 3 percent less than the Bass family.

Word has it that there was some management disagreement between Bass and Morgan Trust, although neither party will respond to questions about the subject. One source suggests that Morgan might have opposed continued development of Vail Associates’ proposed ski development, Beaver Creek, located 10 miles west of Vail. What better way to make everybody happy than to whittle down Morgan’s ownership while taking firm control of the company?

Bass’ offer was so attractive that 771, 000 shares of Vail stock were tendered. He bought 400,000, by accepting a pro rata portion of the 771,000 shares tendered. That means Morgan Guaranty’s position should be reduced to 57,000 shares, or less than 6 percent of the corporation, now dominated by Bass’ 56 percent.

The recent transaction means the Bass family is now the proud owner of two ski resorts. Brother Dick Bass already owns Snowbird ski resort, southeast of Salt Lake City.

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