By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamian Contractors Association’s (BCA) president yesterday warned that the plight of contractors collectively owed $74 million by Baha Mar was “beyond critical”, calling for an immediate revival of the stalled project to stave off
the industry’s “catastrophic collapse”.
Leonard Sands declined to speak directly on reports that Sir Sol Kerzner and his partners are competing with multiple rival bids to take over Baha Mar.
But he warned that a swift resolution to revive the beleaguered project was needed.
“It’s really beyond critical right now. There are significant sums of money owed to local contractors, which has a tremendous impact to their creditors,” Mr Sands said.
“So even when we talk about it being resolved in the sense of a new property owner, the persons who are owed monies are seeking to have those funds paid so they can satisfy their many creditor and persons who rely on them. There are persons who wish to be engaged there and would wish to continue the process.”
Mr Sands added: “There are a number of contracts left to be fulfilled. It’s beyond crucial that that project is revived soon. There are millions of dollars that people need to have satisfied so we don’t have a catastrophic collapse of the industry, in my opinion.
“It affects more than just the guys you see highlighted as creditors in the courts. It includes also the persons they do business with.”
High-level government officials, speaking to Tribune Business on condition of anonymity, have confirmed that Sir Sol and his partner, Island Capital Group principal Andrew Farkas, were “one of” several groups talking to the China Export-Import Bank.
Sir Sol and Mr Farkas are negotiating to take over Baha Mar’s construction, financing and overseeing its physical completion and opening, and will then operate the property on behalf of the China Export-Import Bank.
The bank, which has effectively taken over control of Baha Mar’s assets and displaced its original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, as the owner, currently has $2.45 billion in debt financing secured on the project’s real estate and resort properties.