National Parks:

Issues Involved in the Sale of the Yosemite National Park Concessioner

RCED-92-232: Published: Sep 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 1992.

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GAO reviewed aspects of the sale of the major concessioner at Yosemite National Park to an American purchaser, focusing on: (1) how the purchase price was established; (2) how the possessory interest of the concessioner will be extinguished; (3) whether the new concessioner will have sufficient revenues to pay a promissory note; (4) how the transaction will affect the implementation of the 1980 Yosemite General Management Plan; and (5) whether the National Park Foundation, which acted as a middleman responsible for the sale between the park owner and the National Park Service (NPS), had the authority to contract for the purchase of the concessioner's stock for the concessioner's parent company.

GAO found that: (1) the purchase price was negotiated between the Foundation and the parent company and approved by the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of NPS; (2) Interior and Foundation officials reported that the purchase price was not based on any formal appraisals of the concessioner's assets, but rather on the asking price and projected concession cash flow estimates; (3) in a September 1991 amendment to its contract, the concessioner agreed to relinquish its possessory interest upon payment of the purchase price; (4) NPS cash flow projections indicated that the new concessioner would have sufficient revenues to cover operation expenses and note payments and make a reasonable profit; (5) specific requirements that NPS will impose on the new concessioner as part of the General Management Plan and associated costs have not been finalized; (6) the foundation did not have the authority to participate in the transaction; and (7) the transaction does not result in a gift to the Foundation but is instead a complex business transaction in which the Foundation acted on Interior's behalf.

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