UPDATED: Baha Mar bidder is Hong Kong firm


Tribune Staff Reporter


AFTER months of speculation and intense national interest, the identity of the company in negotiations to acquire Baha Mar has been disclosed as Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited (CTFE).

The Hong-Kong based company said in a statement on Thursday that it “has entered into negotiations in connection with the ownership of Baha Mar.”

The conglomerate also said it will work with the government to conduct a phased opening of the beleaguered resort.

The press release suggests that Baha Mar’s hotels will be managed by separate brands as originally planned, and not by a signal hotel operator.

The company, however, did not disclose details about the terms of the transaction for acquiring Baha Mar or the ongoing negotiations, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

“CTFE, a world-class developer with immense experience in global hospitality and mixed-use development, has applied to the government of the Bahamas for approval as a proposed investor and acquirer of the Baha Mar resort, by way of acquisition of Perfect Luck Assets Limited (Perfect Luck), the company to which certain assets of the Baha Mar Resort have been transferred,” the company’s statement said.

“CTFE is dedicated to the successful opening of Baha Mar and will work with the government to achieve the goal of a phased opening,” the statement added. “As part of the company’s commitment to the project and the Bahamas in the immediate term, CTFE will invest millions ahead of the official deal completion through pre-opening activities and employment – which has already commenced and will be expanded in the coming weeks and months.”

A company official said CTFE is committed to hiring as many Bahamian employees as it can to work at the shuttered resort.

“CTFE is looking forward to having Baha Mar join its portfolio of world-class integrated resort development projects,” said Dr Henry Cheng, chairman of CTFE. “We are fully committed to this project and plan to hire as many Bahamians as possible to work at the property.”

Graeme Davis, the president of CTFE’s Bahamas subsidiary, said: “CTFE is a company that embraces and champions the culture and values of the communities where it does business around the globe. We are excited to create an experience in the Bahamas that showcases what we collectively have to offer the world. We are confident that Baha Mar will be a property that Bahamians can be proud of.”

Rosewood Hotel, a subsidiary of CTFE Group, has had a relationship with Baha Mar since 2011 as one of the originally selected operators for one of Baha Mar’s hotels.

However, after the resort, under the direction of original developer Sarkis Izmirlian, filed for bankruptcy in a US Delaware court in 2015, Rosewood requested that the court void its licensing agreement with Baha Mar, arguing that its brand had been tarnished by its association with Baha Mar.

The company will now be re-engaged to work with Baha Mar, CTFE said.

“As part of the remobilisation efforts, CTFE is already in discussions with hotel brands previously involved in the Baha Mar project, including Hyatt and SLS Hotels,” the company said. “CTFE also intends to re-engage its subsidiary, Rosewood Hotel Group, as a luxury hotel operator at Baha Mar.”

The company said it has significant experience in the tourism and hospitality sector, noting that Rosewood Hotel Group manages “55 hotels in 18 countries under three different brands.”

“Some of CTFE’s most iconic owned properties include The Carlye, a Rosewood Hotel (New York); Rosewood London; The Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel (Beverly Hills); and the Grand Hyatt (Hong Kong). Rosewood Hotel Group also operates three resorts in the Caribbean: Jumby Bay, a Rosewood resort in Antigua, Rosewood Tucker’s Point in Bermuda, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands,” the company said.

“CTE also has extensive experience with large-scale integrated developments. For example, one of the largest investments in London’s history, the over $10b Greenwich Peninsula development project, as well as the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane, a $2.3 billion integrated resort development project in Australian, are both CTFE and affiliated company projects.”

CTFE is owned by the family of Cheng Tu Tung.

Mr Tung, a jewellery tycoon, was a Hong Kong billionaire who died last month – September 29 – at the age of 91. The year before his death he transferred his personal holdings in six-Hong Kong-listed companies to Chow Tai Fook Capital Ltd. On his death Forbes magazine listed him as the third richest man in Hong Kong with an estimated worth of US$16.6 billion

This announcement came two weeks after Mr Izmirlian made another offer to buy 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 his company BMD Holdings is prepared to pay 100 per cent of all “substantiated” Bahamian claims and all money owed to Bahamians and foreign employees.

In a letter to Liu Liange, vice-chairman and president of Export Import Bank of China (CEXIM), earlier this week, 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.


John 6 years, 1 month ago

Despite all the announcements, Bah Mar has yet to reach the stage it was at before the Christie government meddled and caused possession to transfer to Izmirilian to The China ExIm Bank. Remember staff had already been recruited, trained and wasalready in place waiting for the property to open. But China Construction had not yet completed its work. And China ExIm bank asked (Izmirilian) for more money.


C2B 6 years, 1 month ago

Please don't remind us of the actual truth. We are being sold a false reality by all now; with no access to information.


Honestman 6 years, 1 month ago

China keeping it in the family!


BahamaPundit 6 years, 1 month ago

I don't mind all this. Just wish the government had kept its grubby fingers out of the pot, because it leaves a terrible impression of impropriety. Sure, the property has been sold. Great. But what have we as a nation sacrificed for the sale? We have a system of government that now appears completely corrupt, criminal, dictatorial and uncaring about what its citizens think. Where do we go from here?


BahamaPundit 6 years, 1 month ago

The PM may win the battle and open the Resort, but he will have lost the war. His reputation is in tatters with his people and internationally. The sad part is I don't think he cares.


sealice 6 years, 1 month ago

our emperor wears no clothes.... he don't care what anyone thinks he is living in his own reality which isn't connected to anything Real for REAL Bahamians.


242613 6 years, 1 month ago

Thank you Lord. Sell it; Open it; lets move on!


MonkeeDoo 6 years, 1 month ago

BahamaPundit: Totally agree and sad & sick.


watcher 6 years, 1 month ago

With new ownership, will Baha Mar be Chow Tai Fooked?


C2B 6 years, 1 month ago

Chow Tai Fook is a very successful chain of Jewelry stores in Hong Kong. They definitely have the money for this deal as they are owned by Cheng Yu Tung, a HK billionaire and his family. I view this as a positive development vs the alternative state owned enterprise.


banker 6 years, 1 month ago

The jewelry business took a hit on the slowing down of the economy in China and the anti-corruption efforts by the Chinese government. They have had a massive slowdown in sales in revenue. In May of this year Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd.’s shares fell to the lowest after it said full-year profit fell as much as 50 percent as weak Chinese consumer demand undercut revenue and the world’s largest jewelry retailer posted hedging losses on gold loans.

Cheng Yu Tung has died at age 91 and his assets were distributed among 5 companies. Chow Tai Fook Ltd has been acquired on the Hong Kong exchange by Evergrande and they have been downgraded by Moody's earlier this year to B2 with a negative outlook because they are so highly debt leveraged. Evergrande announced acquisitions including (1) various Chinese property-development project companies from New World Development (China) Limited (unrated) and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd (unrated); (2) an investment property in Hong Kong; and (3) a 50% equity stake in a life insurance company.

Chow Tai Fook itself is developing a huge casino complex in Brisbane Australia in hopes of taking its high rollers there. They as a company are pretty leveraged themselves: The firm is involved in a bid to develop a casino resort in Vietnam’s Quang Nam province, in partnership with local company VinaCapital. Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has also shown interest to invest in a new South Korean casino resort at the Incheon Free Economic Zone, near the country’s capital Seoul.

So this aint a done deal. I suspect that they are hoping to get a bargain from EXIM to take it off their books. They can't tap their parent company because Evergrande's debt is so large, that it recently offered to sell back individual real estate holdings that it acquired when it went on an aggressive buying spree in 2015 -- all based on debt.

I wonder if Prime Minister Crisco Butt knows this background? Baha Mar een out of the woods yet.


Honestman 6 years, 1 month ago

The latest "news" may be a positive development (if true) but ponder on the damage Christie has done to the reputation of The Bahamas as an investor friendly country. No major international investor will invest in The Bahamas any time soon (other than Chinese investors). The PLP's treatment of Izmirlian is beyond shocking.


ThomasLewis 6 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps this ordeal comes to fruition I agree that it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of us onlookers. I a former employee of Baha Mar can truly say that the resort has lost it's glamour and pageantry that Sarkis Izmirilian at the helm has exhibited. The integrity of the work has been shattered and only God knows if it will be regained.

Although thousands may receive jobs will they be sustainable? How will the resort maintain occupancy? All of these thoughtrs come to mind although I try to be positive in this situation yet reality kicks in especially when our image has been tainted internationally and globally.


Honestman 6 years, 1 month ago

Your sentiments and concerns are shared by many Thomas. If our government had acted as an "honest broker" in the developer's dealings with the Chinese then this resort would have been up and running by now. It is going to be very difficult for any new owner to capture the energy and feel good factor created by Sarkis Izmirlian. Christie's rank bad management of this whole affair has cost the country millions of dollars already and God knows how much going forward. But, as you say, we have to try and be positive and hopefully the project will in time provide substantial employment opportunities for Bahamians. Watch out for Christie trying to take full credit for resurrecting the project. He should instead be hanging his head in shame for how much he has cost the country.


Well_mudda_take_sic 6 years, 1 month ago

Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited will not be acquiring all of the shares issued by Perfect Luck Holdings Ltd. and Perfect Luck Holdings Ltd. did not acquire all of the shares issued by Perfect Luck Company Limited. Allyson Maynard-Gibson a\k\a the Evil Wicked Witch and Baltron "Bag Man" Bethel seemed to have shaved off a portion of the ownership of the Baha Mar development as a "finders fee" for certain "lucky" Bahamians. And that's why we see Crooked Christie allowing his Chinese friends to shroud in a blanket of secrecy a deal that he and Maynard-Gibson once proclaimed to be so important to our sovereignty and national security interests. We are left to wonder the extent to which Crooked Christie has allowed Chow Tai Fook to royally fook all of us Bahamians.


Sickened 6 years, 1 month ago

Fook! What a perfect name to end this Baha Mar saga!


stislez 6 years, 1 month ago

DUH! any smart person knew the Chinese was the one who was ga buy it. I stay telling people, Bahamians does swing ya like push den fold ya legs dutty! Niggaz cole cut take Izzy wibe from him, give it to the chinese, let dem build it, na dey own it. What you expect when we have a culture of double dippin? Example: Sumone tell me why the man who was in charge of the hospital, had a personal business selling hospital equipment, or why the government renting a warehouse from someone who is a personal friend of the consultant they hired? Why is it that government issued envelopes are only purchased from this same person who they renting the warehouse from when there are many smaller Bahamian companies that do printing? Why is it that this same person who the government renting this warehouse from runs a office suppy business as big as john bull? Why does the government only purchase office equipment from this same supplier? Why when TWO 40 foot containers of fish that was confiscated from pouchers end up in the cooler in the back trunk of inspec jeep, or to the business of one of the friends of the consultant that work for the government? AND SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHY, you would FIRE the man from the hospital after finding out he was double dippin, then REHIRE this same man as a second consultant to the government to work along with the other consultant who now are BOTH in charge of a brand new government sector? hhhhmmmm i wonder


TalRussell 6 years, 1 month ago

Comrades! Either the PM has acted as a lone wolf, or the PLP Cabinet's mentality towards their own political supporters have become insolvent for his cabinet colleagues to ever have approved any takeover of the Baha Mar Resort properties, whereby the new owner is upfront ballsy comfortable enough to issue a pubic statement to the negative effect on native paychecks that:

"A company official said Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited (CTFE) is committed to hiring 'as many Bahamian employees as it can' to work at the shuttered resort."

The same PM has sworn that in excess 50% of the paychecks issued to the 500 workers building The Pointe Garage, did in fact go to native workers. But there are serious denials being made to the PM's in excess of 50% claims...cause others are now publicly claiming that there were no more than a 'dozen native workers' on the payroll at The Pointe's Garage construction?

Surly, the exact percentage of native workers out of the 500 workers, is a serious discrepancy of which the Labour Minister, and PM's newly appointed Czar placed in charge of the $150 million hurricane Matthew relief funds spending - should be in a quick position to clarify?


Reality_Check 6 years, 1 month ago

The little newspaper boy on the corner could be heard shouting: "EXTRA, EXTRA...READ ALL ABOUT IT....CHRISTIE SAYS FOOK TO IZMIRLIAN AND ALL OTHER BAHAMIANS!!!"


BahamaPundit 6 years, 1 month ago

What is Baha Mar without Izzy, but a tourist trap where losers go to find hookers or commit suicide? What the PM fails to realize is without Izzy, the idea of Baha Mar is dead. It's just an over priced hotel on a bad beach. There is no Baha Mar without Izzy.


TalRussell 6 years, 1 month ago

Comrade, what is Baha Mar without Izzy....along a much better trajectory than it was with Izzy in control....including an extravagance of a 'dock' stretching far out into the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. A 'dock' probably still left owing and holding as part of the Chinese bank's $2.5 Billion delinquent mortgage.
I am no fan of the Chinese doing what they want in The Bahamaland, but even they deserve a permanent break away from Izmirlian.


BaronInvest 6 years, 1 month ago

So instead of the French Riviera you'll get the Chinese Riviera in the Bahamas. Man, what a drift in marketing... Do you seriously think this is attractive for investors or tourists ?

Interestingly that company has a big share in one of the hotels that came first to Baha Mar. So my little conspiracy theory here is they liked the concept of Baha Mar and with both CCA and the Bank they drove Sarkis out. It would explain why CCA was interested in not doing the work properly and why noone gives a 'fook' about his offer.


SP 6 years ago

........... EU governments to block takeovers by China firms in strategic industries .........


Only stupid, desperate, PM Perry Gladstone Christie trying to save his own skin is foolish enough to relinquish majority control of the countries main strategic economic industry to China!

We must get rid of this idiot before he sells the country back into slavery to the Chinese.

What a jackass.


Naughtydread 6 years ago

Cannot wait until I can go to little China town and order up some fresh sweet and sour dog at the Chinese Riviera, hopefully I can obtain a few Fake designer bags while I'm there too, So stoked for the grand opening!


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