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$6bn Developers Rush To Meet Pm Departure Date

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The principal behind a $6 billion resort project proposed for eastern Grand Bahama is working furiously to submit documents requested by Prime Minister Perry Christie before he purportedly leaves the country on November 11.

Ken Russell, the former FNM MP and Cabinet Minister, yesterday told Tribune Business that he had told the Blackwood Pointe Resort & Spa’s principal, Lawrence McDonough, to get the papers sought by the Government to the Prime Minister before he left.

The documents, Mr Russell confirmed, were initially received last week, but had to be sent back to China to correct certain ‘errors’ on them. It is thought they relate to ‘proof of financing’ for the project, which is being spearheaded by Mr McDonough’s company, Kylin International.

“The documents should be back very soon hopefully, although they are not here yet,” Mr Russell, who is very much Kylin’s ‘public face’, told Tribune Business.

“We’re hoping to get to the Prime Minister before he goes off on November 11. I spoke with my principal in the US and told him to get that done before the 11th. He’s working hard to get it done ASAP.”

Acknowledging that the documents went back for “corrections”, Mr Russell said that with 13 days to go before the Prime Minister’s departure, he was “confident” that Kylin could meet the timeline.

“I’m hoping they come in time to facilitate a meeting before that November 11 date,” he added. “I explained to my man that the Prime Minister was going away, and to get it done before then, as we could get it moving forward while he was away.”

The Blackwood Pointe Resort & Spa project, which many observers have expressed scepticism about, appears to have gained momentum towards getting government approval after China Development Bank (CDB) emerged as Kylin’s lead financier. Additional financing is set to come from another Chinese state-owned entity, understood to be a construction company.

Many, including former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, had previously expressed scepticism that the Kylin project would get off the ground, with financing identified as the major obstacle.

However, Tribune Business sources have become more optimistic about Blackwood Pointe’s prospects in recent weeks, given the apparent willingness of Chinese state-owned entities to finance the east Grand Bahama proposal.

Kylin and its partners, who are said to include Fairmont Hotels, owner of New York’s The Plaza property, and hospitality firm Cipriani, are proposing to construct seven hotels and 2,700 rooms on a ‘greenfield’ site.

Other amenities confirmed previously include a cruise ship port, marinas, multiple tourist attractions, sporting facilities, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant, water and sewerage plants, and manufacturing facilities.

Mr Russell previously said the developers were projecting that every permanent job at Blackwood would create another three in the wider economy.

Based on Mr Russell’s estimates that Blackwood Pointe will create between 6,000-10,000 full-time jobs, it thus appears the developers are forecasting that the spin-off impact will generate another 18,000-30,000 employment opportunities.

Tribune Business previously reported how both the former Ingraham administration and Hutchison Whampoa, Grand Bahama Development Company’s (Devco) managing partner, were extremely sceptical that Kylin could raise the necessary project financing when it looked at developing the Sharp Rock site within the Port area.

The company, which is headed by Mr McDonough and his Chinese-born wife, some of whose family hold senior positions within the Beijing government, initially targeted a $1 billion development in the Sharp Rock area of Freeport before focusing on eastern Grand Bahama.

The Sharp Rock development, as originally conceived, was contingent on acquiring 2,000 acres, at a purchase price of $100 million, from a combination of Devco and Port Group Ltd, the latter being the GBPA’s sister company and affiliate.

A copy of the original 2010 Kylin submission to the Government, which has been obtained by Tribune Business, talked of constructing five luxury hotels, a cruise ship port, Blue Flag Marina, and gaming, retail and restaurant facilities.

“Kylin will invest more than $1 billion in the physical development of the resort,” the submission said. “It is anticipated that the resort will employ over 5,000 staff.

“Kylin has negotiated a construction loan commitment in the amount of $1.5 billion from Beijing Construction-Engineering Group. While an agreement in principal has been reached, the loan commitment is contingent upon the approvals of the Port Authority and Government of the Bahamas.”

Tribune Business sources previously confirmed that when Hutchison attempted to do due diligence on Mr McDonough, several details – including an address given for an office on the outskirts of Shanghai – did not check out.

This, though, has been disputed by other Tribune Business sources, who have informed this newspaper that all the details and promises given by Mr McDonough to-date – including the office address – have been confirmed and fulfilled.

Comments

SP 4 years, 12 months ago

If former FNM MP Ken Russell actually pulls off this development, Hubert Ingraham will never be able to refer to his great “experience” ever again, and will look even worse than he does now.

Nothing personal against Mr. Ingraham, but he obviously had a bad habit of putting his mouth in fast forward before engaging his brain, never seemed to know what should be said or when to shut up and definitely suffered from a terminal case of foot in mouth decease.

Good luck Mr. Russel. Freeport and the Bahamas are desperate for this type development.

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banker 4 years, 12 months ago

Still waiting to pass judgement on this. Put me in the column of "I will believe it when I see it". Heard this all before from Bobby Ginn.

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John 4 years, 12 months ago

Yea and what about making shares available to Bahamians and rather than the government giving up land, they use it to aquire shares on behalf of the Bahamian people. Right now foreigners own more developmental property than Bahamians....and they got most of it below market value.

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SP 4 years, 11 months ago

I whole heartedly second the idea……… 'SHARES FOR BAHAMIANS"!

One major cause of our weak economy is 'EVERYTHING' is owned by foreigners who have no real ties to the country, repatriate every penny possible, and therefore have no interest in diversifying into other areas of the economy.

Even blue collar Asian, Haitian and Latino expats repatriate most of their earnings back home and are very proud to tell you they are building houses and businesses in their home countries.

Government need to find ways of making FDI investors offer shares to Bahamians for any and all projects.

Bahamians will never become financially empowered and our country will never become financially secure if everything including incentives is only made available to foreigners who don't give a dam about future generations of Bahamians.

Get with the program PLP. We want to be a part of owning and directing the growth of our country.

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concernedcitizen 4 years, 11 months ago

You can buy shares in many Bahamian companies over the years ,Cable bahamas ,Super value ,the old city market ,the new port , Atlantis was once publicly traded , as was new povidence development company ..Buy any ? Select Bahamians always got shares as the cost of the foriegner doing business here ,Tiger in commonwealth ,D Rolle in the old ISland seafood .The biggest expense any of these foriegn firms ,hotel etc ,have is payroll and electricity ,which stays here Of the 8000 or so workers at Atlantis only 93 are non Bahamians...

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John 4 years, 11 months ago

IF you look around you see very little Business activity for Bahamians. Many of their business are closing down left right and center. But look at the Chinese, they are moving from bottom to top and top to bottom in this country. Spreading out like an eagles wing. They are no longer just in the food business (food store and restaurant) but they have hotel businesses, book stores, web shops, liquor store, clothing businesses and they are buying up all the real estate they can put their hands on, Not only in New Providence but also in Freeport and the Family Islands. Notice how they are constantly expanding the buildings they live in, upstairs and downstairs. Do immigration do checks to determine who are living in these places and if they are legal. Some of these buildings have grown to almost a complete block. Four and five times the size of the original building.

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Straight_Talk_Bahamas 4 years, 11 months ago

I did a brief google search and it told me all I wanted to know about Kylin International. Based on these results I think former PM Ingraham was right to reject this project and fire Mr. Russel.

Here a link to Kylin Home Page http://kylininternationalgroupgbi.com/index.php?lang=en-GB

Go visit it, look around. Whats your impression?

Here's a link to a Hong Kong Company listing service http://www.companies-hongkong.com/kylin-international-group-limited-y18e/

What does this say about this company? Do feel comfortable with this company?

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 11 months ago

Can't be serious...what exactly is PGC doing? These people have no money and are fully intent on getting 100% financing off the backs of the Bahamian people? They will go belly up just like Ginn

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