Franklin Countys First News

As ski season approaches, purchase of Saddleback not yet complete

The base lodge at Saddleback Mountain.

RANGELEY - Nearly five months after an Australian company announced it would purchase Saddleback Mountain, the sale has yet to be finalized. The how and when of the ski resort's reopening remains unknown.

On June 28, the Majella Group, a company owned by Australian businessman Sebastian Monsour that is headquartered in Brisbane, and the mountain's current owners, the Berry family, announced at a joint press conference that Majella Group would be purchasing all of the resort's assets, including the lodge, lifts and surrounding 6,337 acres of land. Majella Group had signed an asset purchase agreement and it was announced at that time that the sale would likely be completed later that summer.

In a statement released in late June, Majella Group Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Monsour said that whether the ski mountain opened for the 2017-18 season had yet to be determined, although the company did recognize the upcoming ski season was a priority for the region. Majella Group also announced that it would be replacing an essential, four-person chairlift as well as a second T-bar lift.

Locally, the announcement was met with relief. Saddleback Mountain failed to open for the 2015-16 ski season after owners announced an inability to secure $3 million in financing to purchase a new four-person chairlift. The Berry family has owned the resort since 2004, investing more than $40 million in infrastructure improvements and employing approximately 300 people during the resort's peak winter season.

Over the previous two years, rumors swirled about potential buyers. A number of local business owners and regional stakeholders formed a nonprofit foundation with an eye toward purchasing the mountain with a combination of memberships and donations.

In an update posted to Saddleback Maine's Facebook page, Monsour said that delays had impacted the company's timeline, although it was continuing to move toward finalizing the sale and was now working through the final stages. The delays were on Majella Group's end, Monsour said, rather than the Berry family's.

"We are incredibly thankful to the Berry family and their advisors for their ongoing patience, kindness and support," Monsour wrote. "I am whole heartedly committed to this deal."

There has been some progress on the mountain itself. The existing Rangeley lift was taken down earlier this fall and trails were mowed for the first time in two years.

While Majella Group had hoped to replace the chairlift this year, that replacement would be delayed until next season. Monsour said that while the company recognized that the investment was an important one for the mountain, it wanted additional time to review different lift options, including a detachable versus a fixed grip lift.

Majella Group remains committed to opening this season, but in "some capacity," rather than a full opening.

"This 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 this season," Monsour wrote.

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3 Responses »

  1. The first paragraph says a lot!

  2. I'm not real optimistic this whole sale and opening of Saddleback is going to happen anytime soon. It's all more empty promises to keep the locals and ski enthusiasts hopeful.

  3. Yes, it's taking longer than any of us would like, but there's no reason not to take Monsour for his word...yet. For now, we know that they are "...continuing to move toward finalizing the sale and...working through the final stages." These transactions are tricky to navigate - especially with all the parties involved. Let's be optimistic and hopeful. It will get done and Majella Group will be a great community partner.

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