Judge Approves $24M Loan for Moonlight Basin

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher approved a $24 million loan to Moonlight Basin Ranch that should keep the ski resort operating for the next 18 months.

Kirscher approved the loan from Lehman Brothers, which is foreclosing on a $100 million loan it made to Moonlight Basin in September 2007.

In bankruptcy court, lawyers for both parties urged the judge to decide quickly on whether to allow the loan, saying cash was needed to make sure the ski hill would be able to open this week.

“Ski season starts on Saturday,” said Moonlight Basin attorney James Patton. “They have new employees coming in.”

Moonlight Basin had initially proposed a loan from a Connecticut-based hedge fun, but Lehman made a counter offer with a lower interest rate.

After a hearing Monday, the resort agreed to the Lehman loan after the bank agreed to let the resort use some of the money to investigate whether Lehman defrauded Moonlight with the previous loan, Patton said.

Moonlight Basin officials have said the $100 million loan was intended to keep Moonlight moving forward as Lehman searched for a buyer. Moonlight took the loan, its lawyers claim, with the promise that Lehman would either sell the resort for $300 million to $400 million within three months or provide the resort with long-term financing.

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