The previously announced sale closing and new lift installation have yet to take place.
Friday, October 20, 2017, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
With one month of fall already in the books, concerns about Saddleback's prospective sale and reopening are growing.
On June 28, 2017, Bill and Irene Berry announced they had reached an agreement to sell the shuttered Saddleback Mountain Resort to the Majella Group of Australia. Majella in turn announced the transaction was expected to be completed in the summer of 2017 and that it planned to install two new lifts.
On September 17, Majella announced they were starting "physical work" at Saddleback with the first step being "taking down the existing Rangeley lift." However, despite reportedly having an agreement that allows Majella to remove the lift, as of mid October, the lift remains standing. Trails have been mowed and some lifts have received maintenance in recent months.
The Majella Group
The Majella Group has had no previous involvement in the ski industry. Majella's founder is Professor Frank Monsour, the son of Lebanese immigrants who became an accomplished Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon in Australia. The CEO of Majella Group is Monsour's son, Sebastian Monsour. In 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald claimed Sebastian Monsour "gained unauthorised access to City Hall, lied about a football career and now has come to the attention of the FBI in the United States."
Majella Global Technologies was registered as a Maine business entity on May 31, 2011. In December 2011, Majella's Frank Monsour formed 32 Thomas Street, LLC as a Maine business entity, which then acquired the Williston-West Church in Portland for Majella's United States office.
Since the acquisition, the City of Portland has twice placed tax liens on Majella's office building for failure to pay property taxes. In addition, multiple mortgages have subsequently been taken out on the property, including a $1.4 million mortgage with Camden National Bank around the time Majella reportedly placed a deposit on Saddleback.
Back in its homeland, Majella has announced numerous large real estate developments since its formation as an Australian business entity on June 8, 2011. However, only one project has apparently been completed, in April 2014, and that construction is not taking place on any other proposed projects. According to a source, there may be mounting holding costs associated with the incomplete developments.
There have been no posts on Saddleback's Facebook page since September and Majella's Saddleback web site still claims "transaction is expected to finalize later this summer."
Majella has been advertising an "EB-5 investment opportunity" on its web site. The immigrant investor program made national headlines last year when Jay Peak and Burke Mountain were raided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission because the owners allegedly illegally used EB-5 funds to purchase the Vermont ski areas.
Majella has not responded to multiple inquiries.
The Maine ski resort last operated in 2015.
Update: In an October 21, 2017 Facebook post, Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour stated, "Please do not take our silence as a lack of progress, rather a focus on the task at hand. Over the last few weeks our dedicated crew have brought snowmaking equipment online and are continuing with the process of inspecting, testing, adjusting and certifying the lifts. Our mountain operations team have been cutting, mowing and grooming trails that have grown in over the last two years.
Reopening is a top priority and we are doing everything we can to open in some capacity for the upcoming ski season."