Last updated: 02:05 PM ET, Tue April 12 2016

Izmirlian Seeks to Regain Baha Mar Control

Hotel & Resort | Brian Major | April 12, 2016

Izmirlian Seeks to Regain Baha Mar Control

Image: Sarkis Izmirlian (Photo by Brian Major).

Throughout the sad 16-month saga of delays, cancellations, bankruptcy and receivership that now define the $3.5 billon Baha Mar resort, the original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, has sought to regain control of the project.

This week Izmirlain tired again with an offer to Baha Mar financier China Exim Bank under which “Baha Mar would be opened successfully, payment would be made to unsecured creditors, and no discount would be incurred by China Exim on its Baha Mar funding,” he said.

In an April 11 letter to Liu Liange, China Exim Bank’s president, Izmirlian refers to a January 11 proposal his firm, BMD Holdings Ltd., issued in an attempt to resolve the project, presently in receivership.

“We have not heard from the bank why the proposal is not acceptable,” Izmirlian says. “Our goal in structuring the offer was to make sure Exim would not be required to take a discount on its debt which we have been told repeatedly is an important goal of the bank.

He adds, “Also of great importance is the fact that our offer ensures payments to unsecured creditors, including those many suffering in the Bahamas. Our offer stands, and we are prepared to invest the further funds necessary to open Baha Mar.”

Izmirlian’s letter does not include specific financial terms. Observers have speculated a new buyer might have to spend $600 million to $1 billion to successfully launch the resort, which is 97 percent complete.

The proposal comes amid increasing signs China Exim Bank’s goal of an expedient sale may not occur anytime soon. Last week five senior Baha Mar executives were terminated from their posts, according to a Bahamas Tribune report. The released officials reportedly will not receive redundancy or severance packages, but will be forced to join other creditors awaiting payment.

Officials at Deloitte & Touche in the Bahamas, who are representing the receivers, did not respond to requests for comment. Earlier this month Deloitte hired Canadian real estate firm Colliers International to market Baha Mar to prospective purchasers. Yet questions remain regarding a “lack of transparency” cited by potential bidders.

While the Tribune report describes an “open, transparent sales process” handled via an “electronic data room” designed to provide “a level playing field when it comes to due diligence,” Island Capital Group, principal Andrew Farkas previously said his firm never received “adequate information to make a determination” on purchasing the stalled resort.

Izmirlian referred to those reports in his letter. “Many have already commented that the sale process for Baha Mar launched by the receivers is opaque, fraught with obstacles and irregularities and is not designed to maximize value for all.”

The BMD Holdings chief said his firm has “maintained since last year the former senior most management team of Baha Mar at a significant cost.”

Although Izmirlian said he “will continue to fight the ill-advised winding up/liquidation through the courts,” he will also “work towards opening Baha Mar rapidly and successfully” following a “positive” meeting last week with Perry Christie, the Bahamas prime minister.

The developer added, “Without a doubt my team and I have the best chance of opening Baha Mar quickly and successfully for the benefit of the Bahamian people, Exim bank and the stakeholders of Baha Mar.”

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