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Great Wolf gets bigger, rival bid; New offer prices shares at $6.25

Let the bidding war begin.

Great Wolf Resorts, the indoor waterpark chain that agreed to be acquired by Wall Street's Apollo Global Management, said it has received an unsolicited and significantly higher rival buyout offer from private-equity firm KSL Capital Partners.

The operator of the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ont., said Denver-based KSL, a private-equity firm with $3.5 billion in assets under management that specializes in travel and leisure, is proposing to buy the Madison, Wis.-based company for $6.25 per share in cash. That's 25 percent higher than the $5-per-share cash deal from Apollo that Great Wolf already signed. That deal has been criticized by some shareholders as undervalued.

Great Wolf said its board of directors will consult with its independent financial and legal advisers, will consider and evaluate the proposal, "and will pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Great Wolf and its stockholders."

Deutsche Bank Securities is its financial adviser, while law firms Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP are legal advisers.

Meanwhile, Apollo and Great Wolf extended the cash tender offer for 10 business days, until 9 a.m. April 20. So far, 1.39 million shares have been tendered.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com