When Sarkis Izmirlian proposed to set up a mega resort in the Bahamas, the country opened its doors as the $3.5 billion resort was expected to boost tourism, bring in significant revenue and provide employment opportunities to nearly 5000 locals. Sarkis Izmirlian, the son to a billionaire Armenian father went ahead with his proposed Las Vegas style casino and a resort that would feature 2,000 hotel rooms.
After several delays the project was last expected to open in March 2015 but failed to meet that date as the company ran out of funds to complete the project. The project is around 97% completed but Sarkis Izmirlian and his team have been unable to secure the additional funds to complete the project and this has caused a lot of concerns in the Bahamas.
Baha Mar Ltd had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June at a Delaware court. China’s export import bank has been the main financer for this project with the Izmirlian family investing close to $900 million. However, the Chinese bank wasn’t willing to extend further funding and hence the company could not guarantee a completion date for the Baha Mar resort project.
Perry Christie, the prime minister of the Bahamas stated that he could not wait any longer for the project to be completed as it was extremely important to the economy of the Bahamas as the mega-resort was expected to generate around 10% of the government’s revenue. The prime minister has asked liquidators to proceed, and plans to take over the Baha Mar resort and bring it to completion.
Baha Mar Ltd expressed their disappointment with the proposed move of the prime minister stating that the government was trying to use its legal powers to take over a private investment. Prime Minister Christie stated that the project was jeopardized as Baha Mar Ltd did not inform the government that it was filing for bankruptcy and based on talks with the Chinese bank, Baha Mar Ltd requires a lot of funding not just to complete the project but also to start and meet initial operational expenses.
Speaking about the liquidation process in the Bahamas, prime minister Christie said “(These proceedings) are designed to work in very similar terms as a Chapter 11 (bankruptcy), but with the stark difference that they will be controlled by provisional liquidators under the supervision of the Bahamian courts rather than being controlled by Mr. Izmirlian.”