Life Pass holders
After the Voluntary Administration of RAL, the Life Pass Holders & Shareholder Facebook Group group began acting as an informal representative of life pass holders in their role as a creditor. Since then a vote took place whereby two representatives from the group, Robert Krebs and Sam Clarkson, have been appointed to the PWC creditors committee. Their role on the committee is to represent the interests of approximately 14,000 life pass holders. Many in the Save Mt Ruapehu group are life pass holders and shareholders. We support retaining life passes in a sustainable form that works for Life Pass Holders and the skifields.
We would like to dispel the narrative that Life passes or season passes are an unsustainable business model. It was other reasons that are well documented in our alternative report that have led to RAL's collapse alongside what we estimate to be $20m in revenue shortfalls from FY21 lockdown and this FY22 extreme La Niña Weather event.
We know Life passes are a very cheap and efficient source of capital for investment and the seasons pass holders and day passes provide the daily running costs throughout the season. The ski fields have needed both of those groups just as much as the other.
Our group has done some discounted cash flow modelling and commentary in the alternative shareholders report on Life Pass capital raising. Please have a read.
Life Pass holders (LPH) background and benefits
The Save Mt Ruapehu group believes that life pass holders and other crowdfunding groups are the future of any ski field operations just like they were originally in 1953. They have provided significant investment in the past and they want the opportunity to gain equity in the company to enable a voice.
Life pass holders’ key financial facts
Life Pass crowd funding model has been the traditional source of financing for RAL since its formation in 1953.
Life Passes financed the purchase of the Turoa ski field from Turoa Holdings after it was sent into receivership by the ANZ bank in 2000.
$45.6m capital has been raised from Life Passes between 2000 and 2019.
This is a very cheap and efficient source of capital financing. Equity financing would have a cost of capital of around 10% plus. In comparison, RAL have calculated the cost of capital on Life Pass sales to be 3%-5% per annum.
Debt financing is much higher risk due to that fact it requires both principal and interest repayments which reduces cash flow and carry’s an inherent risk of default. Life Pass funding on the other hand is never repaid, therefore it is relatively risk-free financing.
Life Pass holders’ personal considerations
For life, that is a very long time, and many things can change during a lifetime, for example.
People are mobile; they do not necessarily reside in one place for their lifetime.
Life circumstances change; people find they do not have the freedom to ski as much as they use too, due to age, health, time, etc. therefore the usage of the Life Pass can vary greatly which is reflected in the average usage statistics as below.
Life Passes on average are not well utilised by Life Pass holders.
Average utilisation of Life Pass is approximately 50%, and 2020 utilisation was approximately as low as 43%.
This effectively means that out of the total 14,000 Life Passes sold only 6,020 where active in 2020.
Life Pass holders represent approximately 10% of the skier days across both Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields.
Life Pass holders are natural promoters and revenue feeders.
People are naturally social being's, they like to do things in groups. This means they introduce new skiers to the sport. Life Pass holders increase the future available market pool of skiers by acting as powerful and cost-effective advocators and marketers for the Ski field business.
Example 43% (6020) of Life Pass holders used the ski fields in 2020. If each person brought 1 other family member or friend to the ski field just once and they bought a 2-day pass that would equate to approx. $1.4m revenue @ $120 per day pass.
In addition, they buy food, merchandise, platinum passes etc.
If life Pass holders succeed in rescuing the company in some way shape of form, the benefits to house prices, lifestyles and other incomes will flow.
life Pass holders want all that money to be reinvested into skiing.
Life Pass holders are an alternative form of financing
Life Pass holders do not receive free skiing. They pay a lump sum of money up front. This is essentially a blunt financial instrument that has been used by RAL to finance lift upgrades. Ruapehu Alpine Lifts is a high-risk weather affected seasonal business which limits its ability to attract private investment and borrow from the bank to finance capital upgrades. The table below compares the costs and characteristics of Life Pass Financing to Equity and Debt financing:
Discounted cash flow modelling on Life Passes is discussed in the latest alternative report from pages 48 to 52.
Life Pass holders summary
Life Pass holders provided capital for investment and the seasons pass holders and day passes provide the daily running costs throughout the season. The ski fields have needed both of those groups just as much as the other.
Life Pass holders put in cash up front where others may not have been able to. That doesn't make them better or have contributed more. Both groups are required to sustain the ski fields equally.
However, in order for the ski fields to survive there is a need for more capital injection, and that will also likely come as a significant, interest-free hooks-free completely voluntary payment by these Life Pass holders. Life Pass holders are willing to put in some large $ to keep the fields going - so that they can continue to receive benefit from their previous investment.
In our capital raising surveys which started prior to the voluntary administration, 72% of Life Passholders that we sampled indicated that they would contribute share equity to recapitalise the ski field’s. This equated to expressed interest of $3.5m across the 1,600 Life Pass Holders surveyed. We estimate a potential $10m to $30m equity contribution across the entire 14,000 Life Passholder pool depending on the number of larger philanthropic investors are out there willing to contribute significant sums of capital.
There are also diverse stakeholder groups with different views, Koro Ruapehu means a lot more than just skiing and for many in the local community it’s a lifetime commitment to the maunga without anything in return personally. However, we all have one common goal to save the ski fields and ensure future generations can enjoy the Maunga. Therefore, we need a truly collaborative view and solution which includes Life pass holders, all mountain users, community, Iwi, other investors, government, philanthropists.
There are many crowdfunding options to help achieve this and we recommend you take time to read our ‘Mt Ruapehu Crowdfunding Analysis’
Originally the Life Pass Holders & Shareholder Facebook Group was set up to advocate for the hundreds of minor RAL Shareholders and had been asking for more transparency from RAL, the Board of Directors and the Shareholding Trust.
The core group from Life Pass Holders & Shareholder Facebook Group have worked closely on past projects to support the mountain such as potential capital raising, surveys and a series of Alternative Shareholder Reports. These were presented to the RAL Board of Directors and the RAL Trustees, however no engagement was forthcoming. We believe that the refusal of previous governance to consider alternatives was unfortunate and significantly contributed to the current situation.
As a broad community we are using inclusive mechanisms (social media, email and surveys) to canvas the opinions of a wide range of life pass holders, shareholders as well as the many other stakeholders including iwi, local businesses to help make informed decisions.