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Katz brings Wall Street know-how to VR

EDWARD STONER
EAGLE COUNTY CORRESPONDENT

VAIL ” Industry experts say Rob Katz, Vail Resorts’ new chief executive, will keep the company focused on Wall Street.

“He is a Wall Street guy, not a real estate guy, not a hospitality guy, but a stock guy,” said Jerry Jones, a longtime ski industry analyst. “The connection with Wall Street is important to the company. And the familiarity with the company is a real asset.”

Katz began working with Vail Associates in 1992, when Apollo Partners took control of Vail Associates. He’s been Vail Resorts’ lead man since 2004 and has been on the board since 1996.

Jones said the transition should be smooth.

“He’s young and enthusiastic, and I bet he’ll add something to the operation,” he said.

Nolan Rosall, president of RRC Associates, a marketing and consulting company that specializes in the ski industry, said Katz has a good mix of Wall Street and ski industry knowledge.

“What he’s learned from his experience and background since he’s moved to Colorado to me is intriguing because it’s not limited to the Wall Street background,” Rosall said. “It’s different from someone just moving here from Manhattan to take over the role.”

Evolution of Vail Resorts

Katz served as a senior partner with Apollo, and more recently was an advisor with the company. Apollo took Vail Resorts public in 1997. In 2004, Apollo gave up control of the company when it sold much of its stock.

Ivan Feinseth, managing director of Matrix USA, an investment research firm, said Katz has big shoes to fill in replacing outgoing chief Adam Aron. Aron got frustrated when Apollo lost control of the board, Feinseth said.

“If (Katz) runs into the same frustration, it won’t be good,” he said.

Ralf Garrison, director of the Advisory Group, a marketing firm that focuses on the destination mountain industry, said the choice of Katz as CEO signals a progression of ski resort companies from mountain operators to a publicly traded companies.

The company’s announcement of its move to Denver plays into that evolution, Garrison added.

“Put this all together and you see that Katz and the move to Denver are further signs of Vail preparing itself to move into the broader financial merger and acquisition world,” he said.

Rob Katz

Age: 39

Lives in: Boulder, since 2002

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Work history: Lead director of Vail Resorts since 2004; worked with Apollo since 1990, including as senior partner; worked in mergers and acquisitions at Wall Street firm Drexel Burnham Lambert

Family: Married; two sons, ages 5 and 7.


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