By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
SARKIS Izmirlian, CEO of BMD Holdings Ltd, the original developer of Baha Mar, has made an offer to purchase the stalled $3.5 billion dollar resort “at a price in excess” of the current undisclosed bid.
In a letter dated October 10, addressed to Liu Liange, vice-chairman and president of the Export Import Bank of China (CEXIM), Mr Izmirlian said BMD Holdings is prepared to pay 100 per cent of all “substantiated” Bahamian claims and all money owed to Bahamians and foreign employees.
He also said BMD Holdings will drop “all of our appeals and legal actions in effect within the Bahamian courts” upon acceptance of the offer.
In August, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced that the government and CEXIM entered into an agreement to have Baha Mar completed and sold to a “world-class hotel and casino operator”.
Last month, Mr Christie and a government delegation that travelled to London, England, to meet with investors were informed about the identity of the anticipated buyer for the beleaguered Baha Mar resort. However, he said he could not name the group because of the delicate stage of negotiations.
Under the terms of the agreement, Mr Christie said CEXIM has committed to funding the costs to finish the project and the resort’s general contractor, China Construction America (CCA) Bahamas, will complete outstanding work. He said CCA would also resolve outstanding claims with its suppliers and contractors.
Yesterday, Mr Izmirlian said he found it “surprising” that the undisclosed Chinese buyer was reportedly “found outside the receiver’s sales process,” when BMD Holdings was advised that all offers were required to be tendered through the receiver’s process “and the multitude of bona fide offers we have made were not considered because of that”.
“In fact, if our offers had been considered, it is very likely that Baha Mar would be open today, employing thousands of Bahamians,” Mr Izmirlian said.
“Since the potential acquisition of Baha Mar by an unidentified party via an offer outside the receiver’s process is now what CEXIM is entertaining, we hereby submit the following offer, which we are confident is both far superior economically and in the best interest of the Bahamas … my team can conclude this transaction with CEXIM with the fewest surprises in the shortest period of time. We can complete Baha Mar with the soonest opening of all other options.
“We are in the best position to re-engage the people of the Bahamas as passionate supporters of Baha Mar and its stakeholders. And we can pay the highest price for the benefit of the bank and all its stakeholders.”
In the letter, Mr Izmirlian also asked Mr Liu, to “put our disagreements of the past year behind us” in the best interest of the Bahamian people.
He said: “Together, we can move ahead to a swift and mutually beneficial resolution for Baha Mar, which will result in the resort being open as soon as possible to serve the best interests of the Bahamas, as well as the bank. Now more than ever the country, in its time of need, requires us to come together.”
Last night, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson responded to Mr Izmirlian’s letter.
“The purported offer by BMD Holdings Ltd is a matter for consideration, in the first instance, by EXIM,” she said in a statement. “The government of the Bahamas will continue to work tirelessly in the best interest of the Bahamian people.”
This is not the first time Mr Izmirlian has offered to purchase Baha Mar. In early April, Mr Izmirlian asked the president of CEXIM to accept his offer to complete and open the stalled resort, promising to re-hire Bahamian employees while ensuring that the bank will not have to take a discount on its debt. In other words it would recover its debt in full.
Mr Izmirlian’s offer would also ensure that unsecured creditors, many who are “suffering in the Bahamas”, would be paid, he wrote.
The letter was a follow-up to the offer he made to the bank on January 11, to which he said he received no response.