Two well-known property tycoons, Andrew Farkas and Sol Kerzner, are said to be close to a deal to take over the stalled $3.5bn Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas after the scheme was put into receivership on 30 October.
Representatives from Farkas’s company Island Capital Group have been in Beijing finalising the deal, which would involve hotel magnate Sol Kerzner – developer of the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas (pictured) – plus the scheme’s main financier, the Export-Import Bank of China, and China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd., local newspaper The Tribune reported.
Sources close to the negotiations told The Tribune that the deal would see the two billionaire investors being exclusively responsible for the restructuring, financing, completing, opening and operating the ambitious casino and resort.
Should these reports be true, it’s music to my ears– An anonymous financial analyst
Work on the 97%-complete scheme – considered one of national importance to the tiny Caribbean nation, which is plagued by high unemployment – stalled amid public recriminations and legal disputes when the original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian’s Baha Mar Ltd., sought protection from creditors in a US bankruptcy court on 29 June.
The aim of the talks in Beijing is to analyse the debts, contracts and financing needed to get the resort open in the next six to nine months, The Tribune reported.
"Should these reports be true, it’s music to my ears," a prominent financial analyst who wished to remain anonymous told the newspaper.
He added: "I believe that thousands of unemployed Bahamians and contractors may be jumping around with joy. Sol Kerzner revitalised the Bahamas and our reputation in the 1990s. I wait with bated breath to see if the reports are confirmed that Mr Kerzner has joined with Mr Farkas to save us yet again."
Eighty-year-old, South African-born Sol Kerzner opened the successful Sun City casino and resort in South Africa in 1979. Following a series of other projects, he acquired the troubled Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas in 1994 and redeveloped it as Atlantis, Paradise Island, which opened in 1998.
In 2013 Kerzner teamed up with Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd to develop a $1.6bn resort on the Chinese island of Hainan.
Andrew Farkas founded Insignia Financial Group in 1990. It merged with CB Richard Ellis in 2003. Farkas then founded Island Capital Group, a real estate merchant banking firm that owns controlling interests in a number of businesses which manage more than $180 billion of assets, according to the company.
Photograph: Sol Kerzner’s Atlantis, Paradise Island, opened in the Bahamas in 1998 (Marriott)