Friday night finds: the CEO guest ranch

Reading filings on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend is almost like shooting fish in a barrel. Not that we endorse shooting fish, mind you. Companies are so busy trying to bury things that it’s often hard to figure out what to focus our attention on. While we keep the most actionable items for subscribers to footnoted*Pro, we thought that this 8-K filed by Solera Holdings (SLH) shortly after 4 pm on Friday was worth sharing.

As the filing notes, the company decided to enter into a formal agreement with Aquila Guest Ranch LLC to pay it $140,000 a year for use of a guest ranch in Wyoming. But it’s not just any guest ranch. For those who know Solera, the name of the ranch’s holding company should be pretty familiar because it also happens to be the name of Solera’s Chairman and CEO, Tony Aquila. The filing notes that in the past, Solera has used the Aquila ranch at no cost “for various Company purposes, including: functions intended to foster client, partner and vendor relations as well as business and corporate development; global employee training and team building; management retreats; and employee excellence awards.”

It’s not clear how long Solera has been using the ranch: the filing only notes that the ranch has hosted “numerous events at the ranch and, at AGR’s expense, renovating several facilities on the premises.” A quick scan of Solera’s earlier filings shows no mention of the ranch or Wyoming prior to Friday’s filing. The filing says that the company arrived at the $140K a year figure by “multiplying the estimated daily operating costs of the ranch by an assumed number of days that the Company will use the ranch, which use is based on historical and expected future use.” The agreement is valid for the rest of 2013.

We’re pretty sure that the ranch in question is Split Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole, where the main house is 5,400 square feet. A second page on the site describes two additional guest homes and a one-bedroom cottage and “state of the art 4,000 square-foot barn” and lists Aquila’s wife, Shelly, as the main point of contact, for those also interested in renting the property (presumably when Solera is not using it).

Why did Solera choose to formalize the agreement now? Our best guess is that given the sharp rise in Solera’s price, someone got wind of the ranch and started asking questions. After all, companies don’t do this sort of thing on a whim, even if they eventually try to bury it on a Friday night before a holiday weekend.