St. Regis Aspen Resort owners eye IPO | AspenTimes.com

St. Regis Aspen Resort owners eye IPO

The owners of the St. Regis Aspen Resort, one of Aspen's flagship hotels, said they would file documents this morning with the Securities and Exchange Commission to take the luxury property public.

A newly formed real-estate investment trust called Aspen REIT Inc. and headed by investor Stephane De Baets is aiming to hold an initial public offering to raise $33.5 million. Net proceeds from the IPO would be combined with a partnership of Aspen REIT to acquire 100 percent of indirect interest in the hotel, Aspen REIT said in a company statement.

The IPO is being made possible through the Jumpstart Our Businesses Startups Act, commonly referred to as the JOBS Act, which was signed into law in 2012. The JOBS Act eases SEC restrictions on IPOs by smaller companies wishing to go public.

Aspen REIT is a division of Elevated Returns LLC, a New York-based real estate asset management and advisory firm controlled by De Baets.

The 179-room luxury hotel, located at the foot of Aspen Mountain, is the sole property in the new REIT. Typically REITs have multiple properties.

In a telephone interview Friday, De Baets said "my good feeling" is the IPO would be held in December.

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"For the man on the street, he will be able to get a piece of a trophy asset," said De Baets, who started the Chefs Club restaurant at the St. Regis through his Elevated Returns investment company, which has since opened a similar restaurant at SoHo in New York with its eyes on London and Asia, Forbes reported in April.

The Aspen Chefs Club would not be included in the IPO, De Baets said.

De Baets' Bangkok-based OptAsia Capital Co. Ltd bought the 5-star St. Regis for $70 million in September 2010.

DeBaets called the St. Regis IPO a "pioneer move" in the REIT trade, in large part because it involves a single asset.

"Usually what you have (in an REIT) is a bundle of property," he said. "But when you have a single asset, you can say it is this and only this."

A local hotel developer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said what Aspen REIT Inc. is doing appears to be the first of its kind.

"What they are doing is coming up with a unique way of forming a REIT to own part of a great hotel," he said. "It's an interesting way for the more iconic hotel to be a shared hotel."

Aspen REIT, in a company statement, said it plans to offer 1.675 million shares at $20 each. It would be listed under the ticker symbol "AJAX" on the New York Stock Exchange.

"Aspen REIT intends to be the first single-asset REIT on a national exchange," the company statement says.

Marriott International Inc. manages the St. Regis Aspen, which opened in Aspen as the Ritz-Carlton in 1992.

De Baets said Marriot would continue to operate the hotel after it is taken public.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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