Great Wolf Resorts to be sold again
INdoor water parks, ny investment firm make deal

Great Wolf Resorts to be sold again

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kim schaefer - Undercover Boss

Kim Schaefer, CEO of Madison-based Great Wolf Resorts, is pictured above on the CBS TV show "Undercover Boss," working maintenance along with her employees at one of the company's indoor waterpark resorts, in 2010.

Great Wolf Resorts is about to have new owners, again.

Three years after Apollo Global Management bought the indoor waterpark company for a package valued at $798 million, the New York investment firm is selling Great Wolf to another New York investment firm, Centerbridge Partners, the companies said Tuesday.

Terms were not disclosed but Reuters and Bloomberg news services quote sources “familiar with the matter” as saying the purchase price is $1.35 billion — about 70 percent higher than Apollo paid after a seven-week bidding war with KSL Capital Partners, Denver.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Great Wolf Resorts,” Great Wolf CEO Kim Schaefer said in a news release.

The original Great Wolf was built in Lake Delton by Dells area business owners who sold it. After it was sold, the company headquarters were moved to Madison.

William Rahm, senior managing director of Centerbridge, said Great Wolf is “a leading hospitality business.”

“We are also fully committed to expanding the company into new markets so more families can enjoy a Great Wolf vacation,” he said in the news release.

The company already plans to open its 12th Great Wolf Lodge in the Boston area and has another under construction in Garden Grove, California.

Great Wolf has about 5,000 employees nationwide. Current employment in Madison, which houses company headquarters and a call center, is 240, Great Wolf spokeswoman Susan Storey said.

“The news today has no impact whatsoever on Great Wolf Resorts’ operations or day-to-day activities. All of our lodges will operate as usual and focus on delivering the best in guest experience,” Storey said.

Great Wolf’s board of directors has unanimously approved the agreement. It is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2015, “subject to customary closing conditions,” the equity firms said, in the release.

Centerbridge Partners has $25 billion in capital under management.

Apollo had $160 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2014.


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