Judge Paves Way for Moonlight Basin’s Opening

By Beacon Staff

BUTTE – A bankruptcy judge said Tuesday that Moonlight Basin can use money from a recent sale of a $1.4 million condo to conduct business as usual at the resort — a ruling that company officials say will ensure that lifts will be running this December.

Lawyers for the Big Sky resort, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month, appeared in a Butte courtroom, where U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher heard opening motions in the case.

New York-based investment firm Lehman Brothers moved to foreclose on Moonlight Basin in September, saying the resort defaulted on a $92 million loan. 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.

Kirscher said in his ruling that without the money from the condo sale, Moonlight would “have no choice but to immediately discontinue operation.” He also gave the resort permission to use funds in its bank account and between $152,000 and $180,000 wired to Moonlight by Lehman just before the bankruptcy filing.

During a hearing set for Dec. 7, Moonlight is expected to ask the judge to approve a $23 million loan from a Connecticut-based hedge fund to provide longer-term financing.

The resort, which covers 7,800 acres in the Madison Mountains, employs more than 250 seasonal and year-round workers.

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