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Plp Denies Pact Claim

By CELESTE NIXON

Tribune Staff Reporter

cnixon@tribunemedia.net

THE PLP labelled the claim that it collaborated with the FNM in keeping the details of the Atlantis sale from the public "a nonsense assertion".

Denying reports that the PLP has remained silent on the sale of Atlantis, chairman Brave Davis said the party made numerous attempts to see the details of the agreement, which transferred ownership of the Atlantis resort from Kerzner International to hedge fund Brookfield Asset Management.

If they were collaborating with the FNM, "why would we be asking for the deal to be put forward and made public?" Mr Davis asked. "It is a nonsense assertion."

Following the announcement of the agreement, Mr Davis said PLP leader Perry Christie "personally called for the release of the asset and transfer agreement between the two parties."

The four-year management agreement recently came under fire when it was claimed by the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) that if Kerzner International, which continues to manage the resort, fails to meet annual revenue targets, jobs could be lost.

Earlier this week, the DNA claimed for a second time that a secret understanding exists between the leaders of the two major parties and hit out at PLP leader Perry Christie for not creating a "stink" about the agreement.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Davis said this is the fourth time the party has called for the details of the agreement to be revealed since the sale of the resort was announced in the House of Assembly on November 29.

"The failure of the government to release this agreement demonstrates that they do not respect Bahamians and do not put the welfare of Bahamians first," he said.

It is not enough for Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to say there will be no jobs lost, as the employees of Atlantis have a right to know what is contained in the terms and conditions of an agreement that will affect them, Mr Davis said.

He added: "We call on the government to come clean. Bahamians want to know if there are any guarantees to protect and preserve their jobs, wages and benefits."

When announcing the $175 million debt-for-equity swap, which saw Brookfield assume ownership of the Atlantis and One&Only Ocean Club in late November, the government insisted the new owners had no plans to make staff cuts and would continue to make the same level of investment in the second largest employer in the country, as prior to the sale.

Responding to claims over the weekend, president and managing director of Kerzner International Bahamas Limited George Markantonis reiterated the statement made by Mr Ingraham that no employees will be laid off as a result of the ownership transfer of the Atlantis resort from Kerzner to Brookfield Asset Management of Canada.

He said: "As the Prime Minister has stated before there will be no employee layoffs as a result of this transaction. The same management team continues to operate the property and, as always, the employment of labour will be based on the general global economy and, more specifically, how our occupancies are impacted.

"We believe there are positive signs the trend will be upward, but time will tell," said Mr Markantonis.

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