Saddleback aims to open

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Comments

  • marcski said:

    That being said, the odds that SB will ever operate again as a commercial ski area are very slim (IMO).
    Let's hope you're wrong, Joshua.  One thing to keep in mind is that the Berrys also own a condo or house or something like that at Saddleback.  If they sell off the ski area piece by piece, the value of their personal real estate investment greatly diminishes.  I'd like to think that when push comes to shove, they will be willing to accept less money and keep the area intact and viable, rather than liquidate it, sell off the pieces, and end up with a few more dollars in their pocket.  It will be interesting to see, for sure.  Hopefully they're not Republicans.  :)


    The value of a condo is peanuts compared to what the Berry's invested in the mountain. I'm not sure that would have any influence on their decision.
    Currently, the condo fees that are coming in are covering most of the carrying costs associated with holding on to the property.  The condo owners are in a bind: Among other things, if they stopped paying the fees, Rangeley is not picking up the plowing, the trash removal - probably even the water supply is in jeopardy. 
  • I missed this on NESI. With all the legal stuff against Majella
    here and in Australia, I don’t see them having much interest in, or being able to
    complete the sale and run Saddleback. Do the Berrys have the ability legally to
    drop the deal Majella?


    Prospective Saddleback Buyer Talked of Arranging Hostesses 'So We Don’t Have to Get the Bloody Brothel Licence'

    Prospective Saddleback Buyer Talked of Arranging Hostesses 'So
    We Don’t Have to Get the Bloody Brothel Licence'

    Majella is facing multiple lawsuits
    in Australia.

    Wednesday, May 2, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com



    Saddleback Base Lodge, March 18, 2018



    Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour was planning to set up "private
    entertainment spaces" from Australia to the United States with special
    arrangements "so we don’t have to get the bloody brothel licence,"
    the Courier Mail reports.



    According to the Courier Mail, Monosour told employees, "You never tell
    the wives this."



    The Courier Mail also reports that La Trobe Financial won a $659,184.84 default
    judgment against Majella in March and that an entity named Hays successfully
    sued over an outstanding $34,569.15 invoice in February. Queensland Business
    Monthly reports that multiple individuals have not been paid wages from
    Majella.



    In addition, the Courier Mail reports a foreign Majella investor is suing
    Monsour and Majella in Queensland Supreme Court for "misleading and
    deceptive conduct" and that Monsour is claiming “privilege against
    self-incrimination."



    Background

    The latest saga dates back to July 2015, when the Berry family, owners of
    Saddleback, announced the Rangeley double was "at end of its useful
    life" and that operations would cease if the lift could not be replaced.
    The lift was not replaced and the ski area sat idle for the following two
    winters.



    On June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced Saddleback was being sold to the
    Majella Group
    . At that time, Majella announced the sale would be
    completed later in the summer and that a new fixed grip quad chairlift and
    T-Bar would be installed in 2017. At the time, Majella did not commit to
    operating in 2017-18.



    On September 18, 2017, Majella declared "dominoes have fallen into
    place" and that "physical work is starting" and that "the first step will be taking down the existing Rangeley
    lift
    ." As of mid December, the chairs remain on the Rangeley
    Double. However, chairs were removed from the other lifts and remain on the
    ground, now buried in snow. Saddleback's lifts have not passed state inspection
    since November 2014.



    Also on September 18, with regard to a 2017-18 reopening, Majella posted,
    "only thing that is going to hold up or delay this process is Mother
    Nature" and that Majella was "committed to opening in some capacity for the
    2017-18 ski season, assuming Mother Nature does not deliver an early winter
    with heavy snow."



    On November 9, Majella announced delays in the sale, while also
    adding uncertainty to a 2017-18 reopening by stating it "will not be a
    full opening, rather a limited operation that, if possible, will allow our
    Saddlebackers and their families to return and enjoy the mountain in some
    capacity."



    On November 21, NBC Portland reported it had "learned exclusively that the money isn’t there," adding "if the
    group doesn't come up with the money soon, the deal could fall apart
    entirely."



    In March 2018, NBC Portland released leaked audio in which Monsour stated
    "I have a very very very small amount of funds" and that
    "opening the mountain at Saddleback for the Saddleback Resort is not a
    primary concern for us."



    Saddleback did not operate during the winter of 2017-18.


  • edited May 15
    I already posted that on the last page of this discussion.
    - Sam
  • I already posted that on the last page of this discussion.

    Sorry, I checked p.5-6 before posting. It still took me x2 to see yours, no headline threw me.
  • the story is so bizarre I think a lot of us needed to read it twice  ;))

  • Why are the Berries still even talking to these people?
  • This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  

  • This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  
    Dum an dummer 911
  • This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  
    What it shows is that either no due diligence was done on Majella, or if it was done, it was done incompetently.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's the former. 

    This all comes across that the Berrys telegraphed a position of desperation. 
  • edited May 17

    This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  
    What it shows is that either no due diligence was done on Majella, or if it was done, it was done incompetently.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's the former. 

    This all comes across that the Berrys telegraphed a position of desperation. 
    The Berrys are running a Clown Show.
    This is from the Friday, October 20, 2017, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com article on page 2 of this thread:

    The
    Majella Group has had no previous involvement in the ski industry.
    Majella's founder is Professor Frank Monsour, the son of Lebanese
    immigrants who became an accomplished Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
    in Australia. The CEO of Majella Group is Monsour's son, Sebastian
    Monsour. In 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald claimed
    Sebastian Monsour "gained unauthorised access to City Hall, lied about a
    football career and now has come to the attention of the FBI in the
    United States."

    Are you kidding me? Anybody with half a brain could see this was not happening. How about the next paragraph from the same article? If you live in Maine you would have had to be deaf and blind not to have noticed that Sebastian Monsour and Majella had no clue about real estate development and operations, let alone developing and operating a remote ski area in the middle of Nowhere, Maine.

    Since the
    acquisition, the City of Portland has twice placed tax liens on
    Majella's office building for failure to pay property taxes. In
    addition, multiple mortgages have subsequently been taken out on the
    property, including a $1.4 million mortgage with Camden National Bank
    around the time Majella reportedly placed a deposit on Saddleback.




  • edited May 17
    IMHO Saddleback is going to be permanently on NELSAP. I'm waiting for lifts and assets to be sold off. The fact that no other potential buyers have come along in three years is very telling.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

  • sugarloaf said:

    IMHO Saddleback is going to be permanently on NELSAP. I'm waiting for lifts and assets to be sold off. The fact that no other potential buyers have come along in three years is very telling.

    SMF is there and has put in a bonafide offer.  The Berrys have pretty much stone-walled them.
  • Posted Yesterday at 4:00 AM
    Updated June 4

    Possible Saddleback sale needed federal tax benefit
    The decision not to designate Rangeley an 'opportunity zone' dims the possibility that a Boston investment firm will buy and reopen the popular ski area.

    BY PETER MCGUIRESTAFF WRITER
    Prospects that a Boston investment firm might purchase and reopen Saddleback ski resort have dimmed, after the buyer’s request to include the Rangeley area in a tax-friendly investment zone was rebuffed by the LePage administration.
    In two letters to state officials this past winter, Jonathan Tower, managing partner of Arctaris Impact Fund, said the firm was prepared to invest up to $25 million to get the ski area up and running and another $75 million to $100 million over at least three years to expand the resort, which has been closed since 2015. Tower outlined a plan that included an expansion of skiable terrain, a new hotel and ski lifts.
    “Our project plan would reopen Saddleback, revitalize the Rangeley community, and attract local and tourist visitors to the area’s winter and summer benefits,” he wrote in a March 5 letter to the Department of Economic and Community Development
    To make that investment, however, the firm wanted the Rangeley area to receive an opportunity zone designation, which provides generous tax benefits for some investment in low-income areas.
    “While Saddleback includes significant acreage among its many assets, this project requires a long-term view and the Opportunity Zone designation that we have requested is integral to completing this transaction,” Tower wrote.
    Tower’s letter was among dozens of pages of documents obtained by the Portland Press Herald through a Freedom of Access request for material regarding the LePage administration’s selection of opportunity zones in Maine.
    Tower, the Rangeley town treasurer and Crystal Canney, executive director of the nonprofit Saddleback Mountain Foundation, encouraged the LePage administration to designate the Rangeley area, referencing the possibility of investment in Saddleback.
    Investment in the area might bring back 300 seasonal jobs that were lost when Saddleback closed in 2015, and revitalize the region’s tourism economy, boosters argued.
    Despite support for Rangeley, it was not included among the 32 low-income census tracts selected to be opportunity zones by LePage, who had sole authority to select zones, according to federal law.
    Rangeley wasn’t alone. Other towns, including Dexter, Newport and Howland, argued for, but did not receive, an opportunity zone, according to a review of the documents.
    Lewiston city officials said a zone selected in their city differed from the neighborhoods they asked for.
    Doug Ray, a Department of Economic and Community Development spokesman, said areas selected for the benefit were based on need but also as places most likely to receive investment.
    “It is nothing against any of the ones that weren’t chosen,” Ray said. “Any of the ones that were chosen were deemed to have a realistic chance of success to bring in new investment.”
    The department in March asked for statewide feedback about how it should select the zones and which areas should receive the benefit. Only 25 percent of eligible low-income areas could be selected for the program, according to federal law. That works out to 32 tracts in Maine.
    The state’s zones include large swaths of Washington and Aroostook counties, distressed mill towns such as Rumford, Millinocket and Hartland, and neighborhoods in southern Maine like the Portland waterfront and Maine Mall area in South Portland.
    LePage’s selection of some better-off parts of the state over economically struggling areas raised eyebrows in economic development circles and communities that were not chosen to receive the benefit.
    “All the feedback was discussed,” Ray said. “It was all presented to the governor and he had the ultimate decision on which zones were selected.”
    LePage’s office did not respond to a phone call and email asking why the governor did not select Rangeley as an opportunity zone.
    Last year’s federal tax break law included a provision that allows investors to reinvest capital gains – profits from the sale of investments – into designated low-income areas tax-free for up to 10 years, then get a 15 percent tax break on the initial investment. Any profits they make annually through the investment are tax-free.
    Saddleback closed almost four years ago, when owners Bill and Irene Berry did not get $3 million they needed for a new chairlift.
    Before it closed, Saddleback was Maine’s third-largest ski resort and one of the largest seasonal employers in Franklin County.
    The Majella Group, an Australian development company, agreed to purchase the resort last year. The company has since been plagued with lawsuits and allegations it used the purchase to attract funding through a U.S. visa program for wealthy investors, a charge the company denies. It has yet to complete a purchase of the ski resort.
    The Berry family, through a representative Friday, said there is no formal agreement with Arctaris to buy Saddleback.
    Tower, Arctaris’ managing partner, stressed in an email that winning an opportunity zone was integral to the firm’s purchase plans.
    “While I don’t pass judgment on the relative attraction of Rangeley as an opportunity zone versus other areas in Maine, it is fair to say the scope of our project plan would require greater patience than one would typically get from a traditional private equity or real estate investor,” Tower said.
    “The door is still open” for the firm to buy the ski area, but it might require a public-private partnership, he said.
    Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:
    pmcguire@pressherald.com
    Twitter: PeteL_McGuire
    https://www.pressherald.com/2018/06/04/possible-saddleback-sale-needed-federal-tax-benefit/

  • Prospective Saddleback Buyer Arrested, Charged with Fraud

    Sebastian Monsour was charged by State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group in Australia

    Thursday, June 21, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com



    Nearly one year after the announcement of the sale of Saddleback Mountain Resort, Majella Group's CEO Sebastian Monsour has been charged with investment fraud of over $5 million by the State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group in Australia.

    According to the Brisbane Times, "a number of documents and financial records and some electronic evidence" were seized following the execution of a search warrant today.

    According to Senior Constable Henderson, "We are currently under investigation as to where the money has gone but yes, it has gone."

    According to the Brisbane Times, "Monsour was charged with one count of fraud at Brisbane Watchouse where his bail was withheld."

    http://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=696
    - Sam
  • Hopes for the "private entertainment spaces" are dimming.

  • Here is another article.

    Hopes that the non-profit can negotiate again??
    You ski because even if you don't do it well, it's still a blast....
  • WGAN radio, Portland Maine is reporting this story. Perhaps this will free the Berry's come up with an agreement with the non-profit foundation or find another buyer.
  • As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. There's a movie in this whole sordid story.

    Let's hope that if the Berrys had any illusions as to whether or not Majella would perform, that those illusions are now obliterated.
  • edited June 29
    TomWhite said:

    WGAN radio, Portland Maine is reporting this story. Perhaps this will free the Berry's come up with an agreement with the non-profit foundation or find another buyer.

    So has others news outlets & the Boston Globe with a pic of the mtn. :(
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • Posted June 22
    Arrest of Saddleback’s prospective buyer spurs nonprofit to try again to put the ski area back in business

    Sebastian Monsour, who said a year ago that he planned to make Saddleback the premier ski resort in North America, was jailed Thursday in Australia, charged with defrauding a Chinese investor out of $5 million.

    A group that once had been in negotiations to purchase Saddleback plans to approach the ski area’s owners about reviving those talks following the news Thursday that an Australian businessman who had entered an agreement to buy the resort was arrested and charged with fraud.
    “We see a path forward that can work and we are prepared to lead,” said Crystal Canney, executive director of the Saddleback Mountain Foundation, a nonprofit composed of area business owners and skiers.
    Sebastian Monsour, CEO of the Majella Group, was arrested Thursday following a raid of his office in Brisbane, Australia. Police in Queensland said during a news conference that the arrest followed a “long and protracted investigation” into allegations that Monsour misused $5 million he received from a Chinese investor.
    It is unclear how Monsour’s arrest will impact the sale agreement. Neither Saddleback’s owners, Bill and Irene Berry, nor the Majella Group could be reached for comment Thursday.
    Saddleback closed almost three years ago, after the Berrys could not raise the $3 million they needed for a new chairlift.
    The Saddleback Mountain Foundation reached a verbal agreement to purchase the ski area for $6 million in the fall of 2016, but were able to raise only a little more than $1 million before the Berrys opted instead for a deal with the Australia-based Majella Group in June 2017, when Monsour said he planned to make Saddleback the premier ski resort in North America.
    https://www.pressherald.com/2018/06/22/the-nonprofit-that-has-sought-to-buy-saddleback-plans-to-make-an-offer/
  • TomWhite said:

    Posted June 22
    ...The Saddleback Mountain Foundation reached a verbal agreement to purchase the ski area for $6 million in the fall of 2016, but were able to raise only a little more than $1 million before the Berrys opted instead for a deal with the Australia-based Majella Group in June 2017, when Monsour said he planned to make Saddleback the premier ski resort in North America. ...

    This paragraph (especially the bolded area) is not true. They couldn't accept donations because their 501(c)3 was not set up (it is now). They asked the Berrys for a 90-day exclusive in which to raise funds. They had pledges from many individuals and partners (Trust for Public Land and New England Forestry Foundation) lined up that was close to $6M. It's still not clear to me why the Berrys wouldn't cooperate with the Foundation.

    The SMF returned all escrowed funds.
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