Lehman Brothers Moves to Foreclose on Moonlight Basin

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – Lehman Brothers Commercial Bank has moved to foreclose on Moonlight Basin, two years after loaning the ski mountain and real estate development $100 million.

In court papers filed Sept. 10, the New York investment firm claims the resort owes the bank $86.9 million, including more than $78 million of the original loan and about $8.3 million in interest.

The move was expected.

In late July, Moonlight CEO Lee Poole sent a letter to homeowners in the ski and golf community informing them that Lehman Brothers had decided to begin foreclosure proceedings.

In the foreclosure complaint filed in Madison County, Lehman Brothers asks that Moonlight Basin be put up for sale to recoup the loan, but the investment firm also is asking to be allowed to bid on property.

Representatives of Moonlight Basin, which covers 7,800 acres in the Madison Mountains, declined to comment but restated that lifts should be operating this season. Billings attorney Doug James, named as an attorney for Lehman Brothers, did not return a phone call Monday.

According to the court documents, Moonlight Basin put its lodge, spa, Jack Nicklaus golf course and several entities up as collateral for the $100 million loan. Lehman Brothers says the payments on the loan were supposed to begin in March 2008, but that deadline was extended to Sept. 7, 2008 — exactly a year after the loan was made.

The investment firm, which filed for bankruptcy shortly after the September deadline, says it sent Moonlight a letter in December demanding all unpaid principal and interest. Over the next several months Lehman and Moonlight entered “workout negotiations.”

A temporary fix was hammered out June 19 with a forbearance agreement, a financial tool that grants delinquent borrowers time to round up payments. But that fix ended on July 19, and Lehman Brothers moved to foreclose a short time later.

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