By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
NEW developments concerning the stalled Baha Mar resort prompted stakeholders yesterday to ask a Supreme Court judge for an adjournment of a winding-up petition until February 2016.
In what was to be a hearing into the government’s winding up petition against the incomplete Cable Beach resort, Crown lawyer Loren Klein asked Justice Ian Winder to adjourn the proceedings until the end of January due to new developments since the stalled property went into receivership.
Respective creditors and stakeholders in the project – the Export Import Bank of China, China Construction America (CCA) Bahamas and various government agencies part of the proceedings – had no objection to the adjournment which was granted until February 1, 2016. The EXIM bank is the resort’s lender.
However, in response to the latest adjournment of the proceedings, Baha Mar’s developer, BMD Holdings, issued a statement declaring that “Baha Mar was never meant to be about political and legal machinations nor about putting one party’s self-interests ahead of what is best for the project and the Bahamas.”
“The developer remains firm in the belief that it is in the best interests of the Bahamas for Baha Mar to be completed properly and opened as soon as possible,” the developer’s statement said.
“The developer has never viewed a winding up or liquidation of Baha Mar as an attractive outcome for the Bahamas. The developer remains committed to seeking a consensual resolution of the issues that have resulted in Baha Mar not being able to open, so many jobs being lost, and so many people and businesses suffering economic consequences,” the statement added.
The opening of the 2,000 plus room resort was scheduled for last December but was delayed to March of this year and again to May.
Baha Mar then filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on June 29, however the Supreme Court rejected the resort’s application for the matter to be recognised here. A US judge later threw out the bankruptcy application for Baha Mar’s Bahamian companies.
Baha Mar’s developer is at odds with its general contractor, CCA Bahamas, which it has blamed for numerous opening delays. However, CCA has placed the blame for the resort’s woes on Baha Mar executives, citing mismanagement as the reason the property is behind schedule.
Since the bankruptcy rejection by the Bahamas Supreme Court and the end of Chapter 11 proceedings in Delaware, joint provisional liquidators (JPLs)were appointed in September to protect and prevent the depletion of the resort’s assets before an expected full winding-up of the resort took place.
However, the resort was placed into receivership in October.
Despite the resort’s woes, Prime Minister Perry Christie has repeatedly expressed optimism about the property, and has said a number of international investors are interested in Baha Mar.
Wayne Munroe, QC, who represents a number of government agencies that have filed petitions in the winding up matter, was asked by The Tribune yesterday if he knew the identities of the prospective buyers of the project.
“All I can say, because that would be within the breast of the receivers, it’s been said that there’s been a beauty parade of persons going and expressing interest,” Mr Munroe said.
“Some of it has met the press. I would’ve thought that with such a resort, there would clearly be interest and the (EXIM) Bank would clearly be interested in getting some resolution for its massive investment into the ground out there,” he added.
The adjournment of the winding-up petitions, he added, will “permit the receivers, together with the (joint provisional liquidators) to do their work to see if they can arrive at a solution as quickly as possible.”
“The receivers will be driving the issue of realising the security which is the resort, in terms of whether selling it or completing it, and the JPLs will stay in office to protect the interest of the unsecured creditors,” Mr Munroe said.