Baha Mar Founder Said to Offer Funding to Prevent Liquidationby and
Work on $3.5 billion resort has been stalled since April
Sarkis Izmirlian has sunk $850 million into Bahamas project
Sarkis Izmirlian, who spent 13 years developing the $3.5 billion Baha Mar golf and casino resort in the Bahamas, has offered additional investments, including short-term funding, to prevent a full-blown liquidation, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The person said Izmirlian made the offer this week to Bahamian government officials who are participating in five-way talks that also included court-appointed provisional liquidators, the state-owned China Construction America Inc. and the Export-Import Bank of China.
Baha Mar was 97 percent complete when construction halted in April. The four-hotel complex had been expected to employ almost 5,000 people with an annual payroll of more than $130 million. That would represent 12 percent of the gross domestic product of the Bahamas, according to court papers.
In his offer, Izmirlian asked for collateral and a senior ranking among other creditors to protect his additional investment, the person said. He’s already made an $850 million equity investment in the project, and the Export-Import Bank has provided a $2.45 billion secured loan, according to court papers.
Ross Lovern, a spokesman for Izmirlian, and Jeanne Harfield, a spokeswoman for the Bahamian government, both declined to comment.
Baha Mar filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on June 29 after construction delays forced it to miss its planned March 27 opening.
The Supreme Court of the Bahamas refused to recognize the U.S. proceeding and approved the appointment of provisional liquidators to protect the assets of the resort. The U.S. court later threw out most of Baha Mar’s case.
Baha Mar and the liquidators said Oct. 22 that 2,000 jobs would be cut at the resort while talks continued. Justice Ian Winder of the Supreme Court of Bahamas granted approval to the provisional liquidators’ request to eliminate the jobs.
Before the bankruptcy filing, the contractor and developer had spent months fighting over missed deadlines, invoices and change orders. When Baha Mar withheld payments after the March deadline passed, the builder ceased work and refused to complete the project until it got paid, according to court papers.