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Whistler ski resort to go public

North America's largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb, is going public as it capitalizes on exposure from the 2010 Winter Olympics, when it commanded the attention of 3.5 billion viewers around the world.

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc., formed to complete the initial public offering of the two-mountain resort north of Vancouver, will use the proceeds to pay a portion of what it owes to resort owner Intrawest.

The company did not say how many shares would be issued or how much it hoped to raise in the offering.

The IPO market has ebbed and flowed with investor sentiment in Canada in 2010, as confidence rose and fell regarding the sustainability of the economic recovery.

According to a filing to SEDAR, the Canadian document filing system for companies, once the IPO is completed the company will be owned by public shareholders and Vancouver-based Intrawest, a global resort owner and operator.

The offering is being led by CIBC World Markets, RBC Dominion Securities, Scotia Capital, BMO Nesbitt Burns, TD Securities , Goldman Sachs Canada, Canaccord Genuity Corp., Desjardings Securities, HSBC Securities (Canada) and Raymond James Ltd.

The Whistler Blackcomb resort is located about 115 km from Vancouver and dates back to 1960, when the previous owner of Whistler Mountain, Garibaldi Lifts, installed a gondola, a double chair lift and two T-bar lifts.

Blackcomb Mountain opened for business in 1980 and was bought by Intrawest in 1986. In 1997 Intrawest bought Whistler and integrated the two resorts into one, making Whistler Blackcomb the largest ski resort in North America.

The site was home to skiing, bobsled and other events at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics earlier this year.

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