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Cruise Port The ‘Canvas For The Bahamian Story’

photo

Michael Maura

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Nassau Cruise Port’s $300m transformation is “creating the canvas upon which Bahamians will tell their story” and entice more visitors to leave their vessels, its top executive says,.

Michael Maura, the Prince George Wharf operator’s chief executive, said the marine and amenities upgrades will provide the platform for “authentic” Bahamian products, entertainment and culinary experiences that can re-establish Nassau’s identity as a waterfront destination with numerous attractions and things visitors can do.

“From a branding perspective, what we’re looking to do is create a unique identity for the waterfront,” he told Tribune Business. “One that is branded from unique, authentic Bahamian products, unique, authentic Bahamian cuisine, and unique, authentic Bahamian entertainment.

“When those things come together they will tell a lot of positive stories.” This, Mr Maura argued, will not only entice more passengers to disembark their cruise ships while in Nassau but also encourage them to give positive reviews of the destination, and “the new Nassau port, and the new Nassau waterfront”, to their friends and family to encourage them to visit.

“That’s all going to cause people to come off their ships,” he said. “It’s not the port selling our product. I’m very confident we are creating the canvas upon which Bahamians are going to paint their story, but it does take Bahamian innovation, Bahamian creativity and Bahamian excellence to achieve the greatest success.

“It’s a community effort, and the success of Nassau Cruise Port will be based on the community’s effort to make this a very successful destination.” Mr Maura also voiced similar optimism that a revived Nassau Cruise Port will encourage all downtown Nassau businesses, and especially owners of abandoned and derelict properties east of East Street, to raise their game.

“When you raise the bar of the commercial product, the expectation of the visitor is that everything they are going to experience, see and touch should be at that level,” he asserted. “If they come across a commercial space whose owner was not prepared to be innovative, they are going to walk right by it.

“Those who have invested in their properties, invested in their product selection and have invested in their branding have the potential to go out in front of those slow to reach.” Mr Maura spoke as shares in the Bahamas Investment Fund, which will hold a 49 percent stake in the Nassau Cruise Port, were formally released to the public via a $25m initial public offering (IPO).

Shares are priced at $5 each, with 5m in total offered. The minimum investment is $1,000 in BIF as the offering adopts a ‘bottom up’ approach targeting smaller retail investors first before institutions such as pension funds and insurance companies come into play.

CFAL representatives, acting as advisers to Nassau Cruise Port, said the latter’s 25-year concession to operate and manage Prince George, which starts when construction ends in 2022-2023, should provide attractive long-term returns with an “average yield” of 10 percent per annum. This could increase after the 10-15 year mark, as interest costs decline due to debt repayments.

No investor dividends will likely be paid until 2025. The Bahamas Investment Fund’s (BIF) offering memorandum also discloses that there are two so-called “lock-up” periods during which persons will not be able to redeem and/or dispose of their shares in the cruise port equity owner.

For one year, until December 31, 2022, investors who buy into the Bahamas Investment Fund’s IPO “will not be able to transfer, sell, pledge, grant any option to purchase or otherwise dispose of” their shares in the pooled investment vehicle.

And, for a three-year period lasting until December 31, 2024, investors “will not be able to redeem any shares in the” Bahamas Investment Fund. The restrictions further affirm comments by Mr Maura that the IPO is “not for someone looking to make a quick buck”.

Anthony Ferguson, president of CFAL, said the three-year “redemption lock-up’s” end was designed to coincide with when the Bahamas Investment Fund expects to receive its first dividend from Nassau Cruise Port in 2025.

This, in turn, would give the BIF the necessary liquidity to redeem shares from investors who want to exit their investment, while also coinciding with Nassau Cruise Port’s first full year of post-construction operations and projected first year of profitability.

However, once in, no investor will be able to exit for a whole year. And those seeking to “redeem”, rather than sell their BIF shares to another investor, will be unable to get out for three years.

Comments

tribanon 5 months, 1 week ago

Maura must take us all for fools.

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TalRussell 5 months, 1 week ago

Not big issue for de $300 million Nassau Port's director Comrade Michael Maura aka tourisms Sir Stafford Sands to mix up his port as being a caring about incomes' de natives' and not as a safe harbour hideout for modern day Pirates of the high seas to dock they mega floating hotels, entertainment and gambling venues at and everything else like this and that despite not having a wooden leg stand on and a wounded in battle patched eye.
Dem mega cruise ships individually can cost a Billion US Benjamins to build which is more than de cost any hotel was ever built in de UK Colony and can accommodate more hotel room guests than Atlantis and Bar Mar, combined, ― Yes?

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truetruebahamian 5 months, 1 week ago

It does nothing to improve the look or feel of Nassau town. Our night club with native shows, unique shops and an ambience we once had is lost and will not be brought back by the presence of these ugly monsters of the sea.

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K4C 5 months, 1 week ago

Another cookie cutter port, I am old enough to recall the times when tourist left ships to shop on Bay Street

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