A SENIOR Cabinet minister in the Christie administration yesterday confirmed that stakeholders were close to finalising a deal to complete and open the $3.5 billion Baha Mar resort.
On Monday, The Tribune reported that a deal in principal had been struck for the stalled Cable Beach resort between Island Capital Group LLC, a private real estate merchant bank led by Andrew Farkas and partnered by hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, the Export-Import Bank of China and China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd.
The Cabinet minister, who did not want to be named, supported the proposed deal and pointed out that Mr Kerzner had both the will power and experience to successfully launch the troubled property.
Mr Kerzner, 80, has been credited with the transformation of the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island after acquiring it in 1994, and is the former owner of the One&Only luxury resort chain.
He sold the Atlantis resort to Brookfield Asset Management in 2012 and retired from the hotel industry last year.
The Cabinet minister said the 80-year-old South African-born hotelier had invaluable experience with the hotel industry and culture of the Bahamas.
“I do feel so sorry for (Baha Mar CEO Sarkis) Izmirlian, he had great ideas, great vision, but to be honest he was out of it since the Delaware court threw out his bankruptcy application,” the Cabinet minister said. “When he did that, that was it, he couldn’t meet his obligations. I don’t think the Chinese want to keep the hotel, I think they want to find an investor to buy it but it needs to be opened.”
The Tribune understands that representatives from Island Capital Group have been in Beijing working out the details of the agreement, which is awaiting final approval. The final aim is reportedly to analyse the debts, contracts and other financing needs in a bid to make the resort ready for its long-delayed grand opening over the next six to nine months.
This will ultimately lead to the two billionaire investors being exclusively responsible for the restructuring, financing, completion, opening and operating of the beleaguered $3.5 billion resort on Cable Beach, The Tribune understands.
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a US Bankruptcy Court for 15 of its companies on June 29.
However, in September, a US judge threw out the Chapter 11 cases for Baha Mar’s Bahamian companies.
On September 4, Edmund Rahming of KRyS Global, Mark Nicholas Cropper and Alastair Beveridge of AlixPartners Services UK were appointed as joint provisional liquidators and given the task of overseeing the company. In October, they received approval from the Supreme Court to make 2,020 Baha Mar employees redundant due to the resort’s insolvency.
On October 30, the Export Import Bank of China, Baha Mar’s secured creditor via its $2.45 billion mortgage debenture, obtained Supreme Court approval to appoint the Deloitte & Touche accounting firm as receivers for the troubled project.
Raymond Winder, the firm’s Bahamas managing partner, and two colleagues from Deloitte’s Beijing office, have been selected as receivers for the mega resort.
The resort was originally scheduled to open in December 2014.