By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
SARKIS Izmirlian criticised the transfer of Baha Mar’s assets to Perfect Luck Holdings Ltd yesterday, calling the sale to the special purpose vehicle created by the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM) an “intricate fabrication”.
And nearly two weeks after making a “bona fide” offer to buy Baha Mar, Mr Izmirlian, CEO of BMD Holdings Ltd, said he found it “bizarre” that he has received no response to the “superior proposal”.
In fact, in a letter addressed to Liu Liange, vice-chairman and president of CEXIM, Mr Izmirlian said not only has the bank not acknowledged receipt of the proposal, but “nor has anyone associated with either the bank, the receivers, or Perfect Luck,” made contact with him.
Mr Izmirlian is the original developer of Baha Mar.
In a letter dated October 10, Mr Izmirlian made an offer to purchase the stalled $3.5 billion resort “at a price in excess” of the current undisclosed bid.
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 previously said BMD Holdings will drop “all of our appeals and legal actions in effect within the Bahamian courts” upon acceptance of the offer.
One week after the proposal, Prime Minister Perry Christie urged Mr Izmirlian to work with Perfect Luck Holdings Limited, if the resort developer is in a position to make a “credible proposal” to buy the property as he has suggested.
Yesterday, Mr Izmirlian said it makes neither economic sense nor is it in the best interests for the future of Baha Mar, or The Bahamas, that not one of these related parties “have engaged with us to discuss our proposal.”
“It is indeed ‘extraordinary’ that the entire sale to Perfect Luck has been an intricate fabrication,” he wrote. “The fact that the receivers were not able to find an arm’s length buyer has nothing to do with the quality of the asset and everything to do with a process where bidders were not given information, and were forbidden to meet with stakeholders or to discuss the status of construction with any of the relevant parties.
“The fact that the Bahamian court signed off on the sale does not mean that a comprehensive and inclusive process was followed. It only means that your lawyers were able to craft a story sufficiently plausible for the bank to sell Baha Mar to itself and conduct a further sale of Baha Mar in even more secrecy.
“Today, Bahamians are still waiting,” he added. “Construction has not restarted, and the mysterious real buyer has not been identified. So for the record, we reiterate our offer to purchase the Baha Mar assets. We have been in ongoing communication with many industry experts, operators and interested parties, many who have considered their options for pursuing Baha Mar. They, like us, question the sincerity of the process and the real goal of the appointed receivers. They also recognise the unique experience we bring to this significant project given the many hurdles that lie ahead.”
Mr Izmirlian urged the bank to “engage” with him to find a solution to the current impasse, “help Baha Mar open quickly and successfully, improve CEXIM’s economic position and maximise value for other stakeholders.”
He added: “At this stage no one feels lucky: the thousands of Bahamians out of a job, the contractors not paid, the foreign creditors ignored, the shareholder of CEXIM who is forced to take an enormous write-off on its debt.”
“We present the best option to complete the project and affirm the policy success of CEXIM. Together, we will have shown that even when faced with a challenge that we have found the solution and resolved the problem. Why not at least engage in a serious discussion with us to consider whether there is a pathway forward? President Liu, I repeat from my offer letter of two weeks ago: 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.”
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 has also said CCA would also resolve outstanding claims with its suppliers and contractors.