For­mer Baha Mar owner chal­lenged to put up cred­i­ble of­fer for re­sort

Jamaica Gleaner - - IMF TRACKER -

THE BA­HAMAS gov­ern­ment says it aims to en­sure that the Baha Mar project is sold to a world-class ho­tel and casino op­er­a­tor, amid crit­i­cisms from the for­mer devel­oper.

The as­sets of the bank­rupt re­sort devel­oper were ac­quired by China Ex­port Im­port Bank us­ing a spe­cial pur­pose ve­hi­cle called Per­fect Luck Hold­ings Lim­ited. Un­der the cour­tap­proved trans­ac­tion, the bank, which has around US$2.45 bil­lion of debt tied up in the project ac­cord­ing to lo­cal re­ports, is ex­pected to sell its in­ter­est to a bid­der for the re­sort project at a fu­ture date.

Cit­ing a let­ter crit­i­cal of the process, said to be writ­ten by the for­mer devel­oper, Sarkis Izmir­lian, to the vice-chair­man and pres­i­dent of the Ex­portIm­port Bank of China, Liu Liange, the Perry Christie gov­ern­ment said the cor­re­spon­dence con­tained ex­tra­or­di­nary state­ments to which it felt com­pelled to re­spond.

“Nor­mally, the gov­ern­ment would not re­spond to such a let­ter and state­ment but so far as it im­pacts on what the gov­ern­ment has achieved, which is well doc­u­mented, in en­sur­ing that the Baha Mar de­vel­op­ment is fin­ished and Ba­hamian cred­i­tors paid, the gov­ern­ment is com­pelled to give this state­ment,” Nas­sau said in a re­lease.

It said the as­sets of Baha Mar were ac­quired by Per­fect Luck Hold­ings fol­low­ing a lengthy process man­aged by the re­ceivers and “over­seen and ap­proved by The Ba­hamas Supreme Court”.

CRED­I­BLE PRO­POSAL

“At each stage of the process ... Mr Izmir­lian has had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in dis­cus­sions and the process sur­round­ing the fu­ture of the re­sort,” said the Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“If, as he states, Mr Izmir­lian is in a po­si­tion to, and wishes to work with EXIM to de­liver Baha Mar for the Ba­hamian peo­ple, then he should en­gage se­ri­ously with Per­fect Luck and its ad­vis­ers. If he is in a po­si­tion to make a cred­i­ble pro­posal to ac­quire Baha Mar from Per­fect Luck, then he is free to do so.”

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have been push­ing for the Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion to dis­close the sale for US$3.5 bil­lion Baha Mar project, which is ex­pected to fea­ture a Las Ve­gas-style casino and more than 2,000 ho­tel rooms.

The project stalled af­ter run­ning out of money and last year, Baha Mar filed for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion in Delaware, blam­ing the con­trac­tor, China Con­struc­tion Amer­ica Ba­hamas, for the de­lays.

“Now that the as­sets are owned by Per­fect Luck, that com­pany may sell the re­sort to whomever it wishes, sub­ject to the pro­posed pur­chaser be­ing ac­cept­able to the Gov­ern­ment and other bod­ies per­form­ing their public func­tion,” said The Ba­hamas gov­ern­ment in re­sponse to Izmir­lian’s let­ter.

The Christie ad­min­is­tra­tion said that, af­ter much hard work, the project is back on track, a sub­stan­tial fund has been es­tab­lished by China EXIM for the pay­ment of cred­i­tors’ claims and for­mer Baha Mar Ba­hamian em­ploy­ees.

“Those were two of the prime min­is­ter’s three stated pri­mary ob­jec­tives and they have been achieved. The third ob­jec­tive is to en­sure that Baha Mar is sold to a world-class ho­tel and casino op­er­a­tor. The Gov­ern­ment of The Ba­hamas will con­tinue to work tire­lessly to en­sure that this ob­jec­tive is ful­filled, in the very best in­ter­est of the econ­omy and the peo­ple of The Ba­hamas.”

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