St. Regis owner wants to buy Aspen Club
The majority ownership group behind the St. Regis Aspen Resort hotel is pushing to acquire the financially distressed Aspen Club before a judge can approve its bankruptcy reorganization plan.
Recently introduced court papers in the Aspen Club’s Chapter 11 case in Denver show that Elevated Returns, which owns more than 80% of the luxury hotel, is proposing to buy the Aspen Club’s debts and assets for a minimum of $70 million in a cash-only deal. The proposal says it could have the transaction finalized within 30 days of the court’s approval of the sale.
“We have committed a significant amount of resources to date in evaluating the property and we are prepared to commit significant additional resources in furtherance of proceeding expeditiously,” according to a draft proposal received by at least one creditor of the Aspen Club, which is located at 1450 Ute Ave.
The proposal names Stephane De Baets, president of Elevated, as the primary contact. De Baets declined comment when contacted Tuesday.
Aspen Club owner and president Michael Fox said the club isn’t interested in Elevated’s overture.
“I’ve talked to those guys quite a bit,” he said Tuesday, “and we don’t think it’s the best outcome for all of the stakeholders.”
The Aspen Club, rather, is seeking the bankruptcy court’s approval of $140 million in exit financing from EFO Financial Group LLC of Florida.
“We think that provides the best outcome,” Fox said.
Elevated Returns’ proposal would require bankruptcy approval and also acceptance from the creditors. The Aspen Club has more than $100 million in secured debt and more than $20 million in unsecured debt, according to bankruptcy filings.
Under Elevated Returns’ proposal, it would get the inside track on the bidding process with an initial offer of $70 million in its role as a so-called stalking horse bidder. An auction would be triggered if another suitor placed a bid of at least 110% of the original purchase price, under the proposal.
The proposal from Elevated Returns is an exhibit to an objection made Monday by three creditors — lenders GPIF Aspen Club and Revere High Yield Fund LLP, and Gould Construction. Combined, they hold $50.5 million of the club’s secured debt. They are claiming the Aspen Club’s reorganization plan doesn’t meet muster and it should not be given until Jan. 13, as it is seeking, to receive the creditors’ acceptance and the court’s approval of the plan.
Jason G. Cohen of the Houston firm Bracewell LLP, which represents GPIF Aspen Club, declined comment.
The objection, however, suggests the Aspen Club’s exit strategy is aimed at financially appeasing friends and family members of Fox’s — some of whom are also creditors — while not having a sound business plan to get out of the red.
Elevated Returns approached GPIF Aspen Club, which is owed more than $34 million, about the proposal Sept. 20, alleges the objection.
“It is obvious to the Majority Creditors and to Elevated Returns LLC that these debtors would rather pursue a no-chance plan in favor of management’s friends and family than negotiate in good faith with a suitor that can deliver real value immediately to the creditors,” says the objection.
Elevated Returns owns 81.1% of the St. Regis Aspen after dealing off the remaining portion through digitalized coins in the fall of 2018, which came after Elevated Returns nixed plans to sell half of the hotel through an initial public offering.
Represented by De Baets’ Bangkok-based OptAsia Capital Co. Ltd, 315 Dean Associates Inc. acquired the five-star St. Regis for $70 million in September 2010 during the recession. De Baets also controls Elevated Returns, which manages 315 Dean Associates.
Construction on the major redevelopment of the Aspen Club was planned for completion in the fall of 2018.
It has been suspended since September 2017, which is when the majority of subcontractors quit the job because they had not been paid for their work and materials.
The residential aspect of the club would account for nearly 64,000 square feet. Also planned is a 60,838-square-foot club and spa with other amenities.
In May 2018, the Aspen Club and its subsidiary and project arm Aspen Club Redevelopment Co. filed separate Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions. Both cases have been consolidated.
This week’s $69-million purchase of the Silver Lining Ranch next to the Aspen Club included a 10-bedroom mansion, more than 6 acres and something else of value to the new ownership — a short-term rental license.