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Bahamas – Baha Mar applies for Chapter 11 to complete opening

By - 1 July 2015

The hotel towers look resplendent and the casino is complete with equipment from IGT, Scientific, TCS John Huxley and CG Technology amongst others, ready to whirl into life.

However the owners of Baha Mar, the $3.5bn global gaming destination resort in Nassau, The Bahamas, have filed for bankruptcy, just to ensure it does finally open.

The doors to the Caribbean’s largest casino, a 100,000 square foot ‘masterpiece’ served by 2,200 guest rooms across four hotels; Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, Rosewood at Baha Mar, Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar and SLS LUX at Baha Mar, should have opened at the end of March.

However, Sarkis Izmirlian, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Baha Mar, the developer of the Baha Mar resort has just announced that in order to complete construction and open Baha Mar as soon as practicable, Baha Mar Ltd and entities associated with it are voluntarily undertaking the process of Chapter 11 under the US Bankruptcy Code.

The Board of Directors has determined that due to the financial consequences of the repeated delays by the general contractor and the resulting loss of revenue, the Chapter 11 process is the best path to provide the time to put in place a viable capital structure and working relationships to complete construction and successfully open Baha Mar. The voluntary Chapter 11 filing has been made in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Baha Mar Ltd will be filing an application in the Supreme Court of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas seeking approval of the US court orders.

Mr. Izmirlian has agreed to arrange the funding for the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) financing facility, allowing Baha Mar to operate and meet its financial obligations in the interim during the Chapter 11 process. Specifically, the total DIP facility is up to US$80m of which up to US$30m will be utilised by Baha Mar over the next 30 days.

Mr. Izmirlian stated: “I am committed to doing all I realistically can to move Baha Mar forward to be completed and opened successfully. I am confident that, once opened, Baha Mar will be a world-class destination resort that will attract guests from around the world and serve as a key economic sparkplug to The Bahamas. The Chapter 11 process provides the appropriate venue to create a viable financial structure that places Baha Mar’s interests foremost. The general contractor repeatedly has missed construction deadlines. This has caused both sizeable delay costs and forced the resort to postpone its opening. Unable to open, the resort has been left without a sufficient source of revenue to continue our existing business.

“In fact, after the general contractor made a guarantee to us in November 2014, and then again in January 2015, that Baha Mar would be able to open in its entirety on March 27, 2015, we undertook all preparations necessary for this promised opening date, including significant hiring and training of nearly two thousand employees and purchasing of goods and services,” he added. “Indeed, even when we subsequently found out that the March 27 deadline was not feasible because the general contractor had still not completed construction, rather than simply downsizing, we maintained our employment levels in anticipation of a revised opening date, utilizing our financial resources to pay employees to continue their work at the project and participate in volunteer activities around the island for the benefit of the country.

“At the same time, we sought the help of Baha Mar’s major lender to bring to fruition the completion of construction and the successful opening of Baha Mar, including informing both the lender and the general contractor of our willingness to invest more of our own funds to help cover the delay costs. Unfortunately, our efforts, as well as those of the Bahamian government, have not accomplished that objective. Construction on the project remains incomplete and, consequently, we have not been in a position to set a revised opening date. Thus, the Chapter 11 process is the best path for Baha Mar to now undertake.”

Mr. Izmirlian, concluded: “I want to thank the government of The Bahamas and the Prime Minister in particular for their efforts on behalf of Baha Mar and deeply appreciate their support. They, like us, want Baha Mar to succeed and for this resort to be as magnificent as planned. The process on which we now are embarking is a path, not a destination, for us to achieve our priority of completing construction and opening Baha Mar as a leading premier international resort in The Bahamas.”

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