Bahamas PM to Take Over Baha Mar

Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie (l.) says he will take over Baha Mar, an unfinished multibillion-dollar casino resort in the capital city of Nassau. The $3.5 billion Baha Mar project is now in bankruptcy. Christie calls it a matter of “utmost national importance.”

Developer protests seizure

The trouble-plagued Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas remains unfinished, long past the original opening date. For several months, he project has been at a standstill. Now Prime Minister Perry Christie has announced he will seize control of the $3.5 billion development, which is in corporate bankruptcy in the U.S. state of Delaware.

Christie said recent talks between the developer, Baha Mar Ltd., and the lender, China’s Export-Import Bank, failed to end the logjam. Construction has come to a halt on the development, which was under way in Nassau, reported Reuters.

Christie said the office of the attorney general will begin liquidation proceedings, which will ensure the resort gets completed, reported GGRAsia. The project is expected to create about 5,000 new jobs and generate more than 10 percent of the Bahamas’ gross domestic product, Christie added.

“The completion of the Baha Mar resort is a matter of the utmost national importance,” Christie said. “Baha Mar must open.”

Baha Mar Ltd., under Chairman Sarkis Izmirlian, protested the seizure. In a statement, the firm said, “We urge the government of the Bahamas not to seize private party assets and to allow the private parties in what is after all a commercial enterprise to come to an agreement that would allow for the completion and opening of Baha Mar as soon as possible, as the government has publicly and explicitly urged.”

The developer blames China Construction America Inc., a unit of China State Construction, for delays that delayed a March 27 opening. The contractor blames Baha Mar Ltd. for mismanaging the project. The project’s official opening was pushed back to early May, and also missed that date. With the current impasse, the developer has not set a new opening date.

Baha Mar Ltd filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court on June 29. Perry said that a bankruptcy process conducted in a U.S. court could further delay the completion of the resort, which the official said is 97 percent finished, Reuters reported.

Baha Mar continues to insist the government’s action puts its staff and assets at “at severe risk, and significantly jeopardizes the future of the resort,” according to Caribbean News Now. The company also filed a lawsuit in the UK against CSCEC.