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Key Olympic company makes refinancing deal

Oct. 23, 2008, 8:02 p.m. (ET)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia(AP) Intrawest ULC, the company that will run the ski hills for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, has completed a $1.7 billion refinancing deal, ending weeks of speculation about the company's financial well-being.

The destination-resort company is best known for its Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort, one of the main venues for the Games.

The company received unanimous support from its existing lender group.

Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen said he was pleased to have reached an agreement with lenders, especially during the challenges of the global credit markets.

Jensen said Intrawest has great assets, a sound business model, a solid track record and is preparing for another successful winter season.

Fortress Investment Group LLC had until Friday to refinance the debt for Intrawest amid rampant speculation that the hedge fund wouldn't be able to close the deal.

Fortress bought Intrawest two years ago in a multibillion-dollar deal financed by a group of lenders that included Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy protection.

The IOC's coordination commission, headed by IOC executive director Gilbert Felli and chairman Ren Fasel, wrapped up its seventh of nine updates on 2010 Games' preparations Thursday.

Last week, the organizing committee released it annual budget numbers.

The games remain financially strong, organizers said, despite a current deficit, rising venue budgets and concerns about the global financial crisis.

The organizing committee's latest financial statement says it ran a deficit of $40.5 million in the year ending July 31, compared to the $51.3 million surplus it had in 2006-07.

Overall, said Fasel, the team was happy with progress in Vancouver which he said is now firmly into the operational phase as venue construction finishes.

``With the Beijing Games now over, it is Vancouver 2010's turn to step into the spotlight and I am confident that Vancouver 2010 can also raise the bar for the Olympic Winter Games,'' Fasel said. ``Our Canadian friends learned many important lessons during their stay in Beijing as part of the IOC's Observer's Program, and this can be seen in their planning, which is being fine-tuned as VANOC moves into its operational phase.''

Concerns had also been expressed about the 90-mile Sea-to-Sky Highway which links Vancouver and Whistler.

It has long been considered the Games' biggest weakness. The road was closed for several days this summer when a massive rock slide covered it.

Felli waved aside concerns about the road by saying the athletes and officials that participate in Whistler events will be staying there.