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'Reasonable Sum' For New Msc Island Lease

Ocean Cay's current leaseholder is in line to receive "a reasonable sum" as compensation for its termination, and has pledged to ensure "a smooth transition" to Mediterranean Shipping Company's (MSC) new cruise getaway.

Tony Myers, principal of Sandy Cay Development Company, told Tribune Business he was unable to divulge any details surrounding negotiations with the Government and MSC because he had just signed a confidentiality agreement.

He dismissed, though, speculation circulating within the private sector that Sandy Cay Development was set to be paid $50 million compensation for the loss of its 25-year lease.

This seems to have been sparked when Prime Minister Perry Christie said Sandy Cay Development's principals "have walked away with the biggest smiles on their faces that they could ever have".

"I only hope that the Government of the Bahamas benefits as much as they do," he added at the Heads of Agreement signing last week.

Mr Myers, though, dismissed the $50 million claims as laughable. "That sum is so far wrong," he told Tribune Business. "That's so incorrect it's not funny.

"It's a reasonable sum, fairly negotiated by all parties."

He emphasised that Sandy Cay Development would help to facilitate the island's transfer to MSC's possession. Newspaper reports in the UK said the shipping giant has signed a 100-year lease with the Government for the property.

"We're definitely supportive of what the Government and MSC are doing," Mr Myers told Tribune Business, "and wish them the most success with it.

"We'll be very involved in ensuring a smooth transition. We're operating there, and will still be operating there."

Mr Myers implied that Sandy Cay Development would be assisting MSC with the development of its private cruise island destination, telling this newspaper that "a massive amount of sand" would need to be moved to create the proposed beaches and lagoons.

MSC has committed $100 million to the development of its Sandy Cay (the former Ocean Cay) cruise port and marine park, a project that will draw 369,000 passengers annually.

"Amenities will include shopping, dining, retail and recreational spaces, including an amphitheatre and a ship-based infirmary among other facilities. MSC is also developing a Marine Reserve at Sandy Cay, offering unique diving experiences for guests of the island, further adding to the Bimini experience," Mr Christie said last week.

“Future plans call for development of a yacht club and spa, private bungalows, massage huts and wave-action lagoons, as well as a private, mega-yacht marina. Other developments will include offices for a dock master and Bahamas Customs and Immigration. Back-of-the-house facilities will include staff housing, security stations, power, water/waste treatment and maintenance areas.”

Ocean Cay is a man-made island near Bimini that is presently used by Mr Myers' company for industrial purposes, namely the mining of sand and aragonite.

Further highlighting Ocean Cay's industrial history, Mr Myers took over the island's lease from AES, after the US energy company finally abandoned its plans to site a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the island due to years of Government 'foot dragging' on whether to approve the project.

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