By CONSTANCE SEE
Fortune 500 business mogul William Foley has purchased Edwards Jet Center at Glacier Park International Airport, Foley's legal counsel confirmed earlier this week.
Foley, a part-time Whitefish resident and majority stockholder and chairman of the board for Winter Sports Inc., the corporation that operates Whitefish Mountain Resort, has had a growing presence in Whitefish over the past few years. Most recently Foley formed and serves as chairman of the Glacier Restaurant Group LLC, the largest restaurant business headquartered in Montana. The restaurant group includes the MacKenzie River
Pizza Co. chain, Mambo Italiano, Craggy Range Bar and Grill and Corner House Grille.
Papers were signed Friday, July 13, for the jet-center acquisition.
"There are a few conditions in the closing paperwork," said Greg Lane, counsel for Foley. "We anticipate closing the transaction by July 31 if all the conditions are all met."
Lane said he has been working on the transaction since the end of June. The desired new name is Glacier Jet Center.
Edwards Jet Center owner Cliff Edwards said the business was not listed for sale, but he had received two other offers in addition to Foley's.
Edwards and his sons, Chris and John, will continue to own and operate the Edwards Jet Center in Billings.
"We are really, really pleased to have Bill purchase this," Edwards said. "The most important thing to us is he is heavily involved in the area here."
Edwards said one of the caveats for the sale was a guarantee that all 33 employees at the Kalispell operation remain with the new owners.
"He's turn-keying all of my employees," said Edwards. "It's a seamless transition that will be good for Mr. Foley and good for Glacier Airport."
The private jet facility consists of several hangers and a full-service shop. No aircraft are involved in the sale.
Edwards purchased the private jet business on July 1, 2001, from Robbie Holeman. Over the last six years he has added 48,000 square feet of hanger space to accommodate increasing traffic. As many as 75 private jets refuel at the facility in a day, Edwards said.
Foley is chief executive officer of Fidelity National Financial, A Fortune 500 company and the largest title insurance company in America. He was appointed to the Winter Sports board in November 2004 and then acquired a sizable number of shares from Dick Dasen Sr. after Dasen was charged with prostitution and other sex crimes in 2004.