The Grand Lucayan resort.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
GRAND Lucayan managers have agreed to voluntarily separate from the resort with a total payout of $4.4m, Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar announced yesterday, signalling the end of an at times contentious battle between stakeholders.
The payout breaks down to $3.7m from the government and approximately $700,000 from a Family Guardian Insurance annuity, which the 91 managers are entitled to tap in to.
The issue had dragged on for more than seven months and Grand Lucayan’s board and the Minnis administration had previously taken a position that in committing an extra $500,000 of taxpayer monies over and above what BHMA members were due according to law, they were not prepared to go beyond a $3.1m-$3.2m offer.
There are 114 middle management staff, which the minister said was a lot more managers than needed. He said they could expect to begin receiving payouts at the latest the second week of May.
“I am delighted to announce today that we have come to an arrangement with the managers union at the Our Lucayan,” the minister told reporters outside Cabinet yesterday morning. “We have a deal.
“So there are approximately 91 managers that are included in the deal that may alter somewhat and we have agreed to pay them $3.7m.
“They have other funds that are in an annuity with Family Guardian, which they will be entitled to tap in to as well so that will take the total payout to $4.4m. So this is a good day for Grand Bahama.”
He continued: “It allows these employees to go home with a lump sum and to prepare for the upcoming employment opportunities that are going to present themselves with the Carnival port and the Royal Caribbean acquisition of the Grand Lucayan. So the government is marching ever closer to the disengagement from this acquisition and as far as I know everything is proceeding according to planned with that process, so this is a milestone.
“I must compliment and thank Obie Ferguson (chief negotiator) and Kirk Russell (vice president of the BHMA) who were on the other side. We had good and fruitful discussion and I am glad we are now able to come to a conclusion.”
The minister also offered advice to the managers yesterday on how they should proceed.
“Spend your money wisely and prepare yourself for the other opportunities that are going to present themselves in the next five to six months.
“So as the government marches toward a sale this is a natural outcome of that process and when we hand over the hotel to the new owners we will complete the disengagement of all of the staff and then the new owners will commence the reengagement of who they would like to have or hire new staff.”
As for the completion of the Grand Lucayan’s sale, Mr D’Aguilar said the process is still a long time from completion.
“That’s a process that involves due diligence, an acquisition and then a handover period. So there are milestones and deadlines, but as we get closer to those then I think I’d be in a position to concretise them.
“But right now, they’re going through their due diligence and rather than commit myself to a date as you would all like me to do, I think I would leave it vague and fuzzy for now,” he said.
In late March, Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Royal Caribbean Cruises and the ITM Group for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort for $65 million and the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour.
The Minnis administration purchased the resort from Hutchinson Whampoa for $65 million last year.