Negotiations resume in China to get Bahamas’ Baha Mar mega resort completed

Prime Minister Perry Christie said the five-member delegation led by Attorney General Allyson Gibson Q.C would join representatives of Baha Mar, the project’s general contractor China State Construction and the Export-Import Bank of China which backed the US$3.5 billion project with a US$2.45 billion concessionary loan.

The resort was originally scheduled to open last December but that deadline was missed, as was a March deadline, delaying the creation of 5,000 new jobs.

“Assuring the prompt resumption, completion and opening of the development is fundamental to protecting our national interest,” Christie said.

“The most effective way to preserve the livelihood of Baha Mar’s workers, protect investors and realize the project’s great economic promise for all the Bahamas is to ensure the completion and opening of Baha Mar as soon as possible.”

The Baha Mar owners filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in the US earlier this month, claiming US$2.7 billion in debt – including US$2.4 billion owed to state-owned Export-Import Bank – and arguing that China State Construction had repeatedly missed deadlines which left the company without a sufficient source of revenue to continue its existing business.

It went to the Bahamas Supreme Court, asking that those proceedings be recognized in the island, but a judge last Wednesday turned down the application.

The Bahamas government, which fought the bankruptcy protection attempt by developer Sarkis Izmiralian, had welcomed the ruling, saying the best outcome was for the parties to achieve a timely negotiated agreement.

“Should the parties reach an agreement, the parties can get back to the completion and opening of the resort without further litigation or other delay. If no agreement is reached, there will still be the option of a restructuring and re-launch of the project under the authority of a provisional liquidator and the supervision of our Supreme Court, if the court is minded to so order after hearing from all sides,” the prime minister said.

“The preferred solution, however, would obviously be an amicable out-of-court settlement between all the parties.”

The Baha Mar resort is China’s largest overseas commercial real estate project and one of the largest commercial construction projects in the Western Hemisphere.

A lawyer for Baha Mar said earlier this month that the sprawling 2,323-room resort, which features a Jack Nicklaus golf course, a Las Vegas-style casino and 40 restaurants, would be completed in eight to 12 weeks once construction resumes.

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