Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) has delivered an offer to the Bahamian government in a bid to purchase the stalled $3.5 billion Baha Mar Resort there. Reports indicate that the offer includes a list of prospective operators under consideration by CTFE to operate various aspects of the development.
According to a report on Tribune242, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe has confirmed that regulators began the process of due diligence on potential casino operators late last week.
“[CTFE] has submitted to the government of the Bahamas proposals for the hotel and the casino, and the government of the Bahamas is now looking at what they have submitted. We got it in last week,” he said.
“They’re going to pretty much follow what they’ve done in other jurisdictions where they have major casino operators from veterans in the industry. We’re looking at all the components, we have to take a look at what they do now. They’ve given us a list of players that we’re doing due diligence on,” said Wilchcombe.
Opposition to the proposed deal has been stiff from competing political parties and others frustrated by the government’s actions and sometimes secretive judicial documents dealing with the state-owned Chinese bank in control of the project since the original owner and developer was relieved of assets and decision making.
Former Baha Mar director and opposition candidate, Dionisio D’Aguilar earlier implied that CFTE was unsuited to invest in Baha Mar due to the conglomerate’s links to Macau businessman Stanley Ho. Chow Tai Fook invests, but has no operational control or participation in daily activities of Ho’s Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), which owns the gaming subsidiary, SJM Holdings Ltd., which holds one of six casino concession licenses in the former Portuguese enclave. CTFE has stated that STDM will not be involved in the project in any way.
In an October press release Chow Tai Fook stated: “As part of the company’s commitment to the project and the Bahamas in the immediate term, CTFE will invest millions ahead of the official deal completion through pre-opening activities and employment – which has already commenced and will be expanded in the coming weeks and months.”
In August, Perry Christie, the Bahamas prime minister stated that for nearly two years his goal had been to find a solution and resume construction so that the casino, hotel, convention center, and golf course “would open before the end of the 2016-2017 winter season,” as well as settle claims by local creditors and contractors. “We have achieved all of these objectives,” he said.