THE SOUND bites being fired off by opposition politicians over the collapse of the Kerzner agreement with its Brookfield creditor gives the impression that they are intent -- in order to deal a mortal political blow to Prime Minister Ingraham-- on striking fear in Kerzner's staff just at a time when the resort is experiencing a favourable turn-around in business. Although the Kerzner attempt at an ownership transfer failed last week, the current dispute is between creditors, aggrieved that a junior in their midst appears to have outsmarted the remaining six, all senior in the creditor lineup. They feared that Brookfield, in its proposed $175 million debt-for-equity swap, would be the sole beneficiary to any future success of the resort, leaving them empty handed. They appealed to a court in Delaware, which stopped the ownership transfer pending a court hearing. Brookfield, instead of wasting precious time in court, cancelled the Kerzner agreement, in the meantime continuing to try to broker a deal with its fellow lenders. The Atlantis resort and the One & Only Ocean Club remain in Kerzner hands and under Kerzner management. Kerzner International president, George Markantonis, has repeatedly assured his staff and the public that the Kerzner-Brookfield transaction would in no way affect their jobs. Prime Minister Ingraham has also been given assurances that as far as the present transaction is concerned, Bahamians -- almost 8,000 of them -- have no reason to fear. What they do not realise is that the debt crisis in Greece -- now tottering on the brink of default -- could create such an economic tsunami that international commerce, including tourism, could grind to a sudden halt. And as everything has a logical conclusion, the results would be -- no tourists, no jobs, no hotels. In these circumstances, employment at Atlantis would suffer a faster after-shock, forcing downsizing more than the present squabbles among Kerzner lenders. And so, as the Kerzner president has said, not only would the lenders' foreclosing or putting the company into bankruptcy be "very far fetched", but so would the loss of local jobs. At present, said Mr Markantonis, "it's really looking like a nice January... and a strong winter." He hinted that additional staff might even be taken on. In fact, Atlantis is too big to fail. It would cost more to go into bankruptcy than to keep the hotel open and continue to fight for business with a dedicated -- not a politically spooked staff -- as important members of the team. Based on a $3 billion valuation of the property stamp tax alone would be $360 million. (See Tribune Business Editor Neil Hartnell's article in today's Business section). Opposition Leader Perry Christie has berated Prime Minister Ingraham for not telling the Bahamian people on Friday that the Brookfield deal had failed. How could anyone speak on this matter with any authority when no one -- not even the Kerzner team - knew what was going on at that time. Mr Ingraham could have opened his mouth and babbled a lot of nonsensical platitudes that might have sounded good, but would have meant nothing because he -- like everyone else -- knew nothing. A wise man does not open his mouth unless he is sure of what he is going to say. This was a fight among lenders as they saw a lucrative deal about to slip through their fingers. Mr Christie accused Mr Ingraham of not fighting for Bahamian jobs. How could Mr Ingraham enter the debate until he received an application from Brookfield for the government's approval of the transaction? It was at that point that he could have had his say and presented Bahamian demands, but before Mr Ingraham could properly read the application, Brookfield withdrew it. What did Mr Christie want Mr Ingraham to do -- fly to wherever the creditors were meeting, kick the door in and demand an audience? The idea, although ridiculous, is good political fodder for the ignorant. Mr Christie knows he is just making political noise. If he sincerely wanted to save Bahamian jobs he would stop ringing alarm bells. And if Atlantis employees really want to save their jobs they will close their ears to "the sky is falling" myths and avoid the disaster into which Chicken Little led his friends by his false alarm. According to the nursery rhyme, a very foolish Chicken Little was in the woods one day when an acorn fell on his tail. The silly little chick decided that the sky was falling, and so he ran to alert all his farmyard friends. When he told Henny Penny, she wanted to know how he knew that the sky was falling in. "I saw it with my eyes," said Chicken Little. "I heard it with my ears. Some of it fell on my tail." "We will run," said Henny Penny, "and tell the king." They lined up three more friends, frightening them into action with the same end-of-the-world story. Eventually, they came to the den of Foxy Loxy, who listened to the sky is falling in tale, and told them: "We will run," he said. "We will run into my den, and I will tell the king." They ran into Foxy Loxy's den, But they did not come out again! And that is just what will happen to Atlantis staff if they pay serious attention to all of these Chicken Littles, Henny Pennys, Turkey Lurkeys, Ducky Luckys and Goosey Looseys running around in today's political arena ringing false alarm bells. Atlantis might have problems, but so far the sky has not fallen in.


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