Sarkis Izmirlian, the billionaire who saw his dream of the largest casino resort in the Caribbean 90 percent complete before a dispute with his Chinese state-owned contractor led to a halt in construction and the start of liquidation procedures by the government of the Bahamas, has made a new proposal to save the largest construction project the islands have ever seen.
Izmirlian has offered to put up more of his own money to save the $3.5 billion project from liquidation. His family already put up nearly $1 billion—$850 million from Izmirlian himself—for completion of the six-hotel gaming and leisure complex on Nassau’s legendary Cable Beach, with the remainder put up by the state-owned Export-Import Bank of China (Exim). Exim recently denied to loan Izmirlian’s company any more money to complete the project.
As Baha Mar Ltd. laid off all of its 2,000 active and non-active employees in October, negotiations between Baha Mar, Exim and the contractor, China State Construction Engineering Company subsidiary China Construction America, continued, mediated by court-appointed joint provisional liquidators and officials of the Bahamian government, in an effort to stave off liquidation procedures, which had been set to officially begin November 2 before the Bahamas Supreme Court extended the deadline for private resolution to November 25.
Last month, Izmirlian offered to put up more of his own money through short-term investments, in exchange for collateral and a senior ranking among other creditors to protect his investment, according to a Bloomberg report that cited unnamed sources close to the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has placed Baha Mar into receivership at the request of Exim, a move the head of the Bahamas’ Progressive Liberal Party called “positive” in that it will ensure the parties cooperate to complete and open the resort.
“The (receivership) decision will mean a new era of cooperation to get the project finished and people back on the job,” PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said in a statement.