Bahamas PM Announces Agreement to Complete Baha Mar
Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie announced a “framework agreement” Wednesday with the Export Import Bank of China (EXIM) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to complete the bankrupt $3.5 billion Baha Mar mega-resort “as expeditiously as possible.”
Christie announced the pact in the Bahamas House of Assembly while delivering a budget address, according to local media reports. The agreement follows meetings held among Bahamian government officials and representatives from EXIM, Baha Mar’s financier, and CSCEC, the parent company of China Construction America (CCA) Bahamas, the project’s general contractor.
Christie read a joint statement from the Chinese state-owned firms saying, “We are pleased to confirm that EXIM and CSCEC have entered into a framework agreement which provides a pathway forward for the completion of the Baha Mar resort.
“The arrangement provides for a framework for putting in place the financing required for completion of the project,” the statement continued, “and for CSCEC’s indirect subsidiary, CCA Bahamas, to remobilize and restart construction to finish the project as expeditiously as possible.”
The mega-resort, said to be 97 percent complete, is in receivership and now 17 months beyond its original opening date. Christie said CCA Bahamas is also in talks with Baha Mar’s Supreme Court-appointed receivers to craft “terms for construction to recommence” including a timeline for the project’s completion.
Excluded from the agreement is Sarkis Izmirlan, Baha Mar’s original developer, who has repeatedly sought to resume its role in the project. Izmirlian’s company is not among the firms involved in the bidding process conducted by the receivers. Baha Mar’s repeated delays and eventual plunge into receivership began with disputes between Izmirlian and CCA Bahamas over missed construction deadlines and other related issues.
Predictably, Izmirlian’s BMD Holdings issued a statement blasting the reported agreement: “It is very discouraging that EXIM Bank, knowing full well the serious irregularities already demonstrated by its sister company China State Construction Engineering Corp, would now turn to this very same entity to complete the work which its subsidiary CCA has failed to do time and again on previous schedules that it has provided.”
The statement adds, “There is nothing in CCA’s past performance at Baha Mar that should lend confidence that they can complete Baha Mar on any schedule they provide.”
The BMD Holdings statement also referred to “deceitful business practices including overbilling and [the use of] inferior materials,” as among CCA’s shortcomings. The contractor’s involvement would result in “fatal impairment to the unsecured creditors” creating “increased risk with respect to whether or not the resort will indeed ever open.”
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