Chairman and CEO of Kerzner International Sir Sol Kerzner told reporters that the 8,000 jobs at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island could be placed in jeopardy if the Bahamas government approves the Baha Mar project in its current form.
“It’s a deal that makes no sense,” Mr Kerzner told reporters.
“It’s a deal that could be harmful to the people of The Bahamas and certainly to future investors and indeed ourselves.”
Talking with reporters on the phone from London, Mr Kerzner expanded on comments contained in a statement released to the press the day before.
“I don’t think that this is very good for future investors. I think it’s shocking quite honestly that agreements with government are violated and this is a clear breach,” he said.
Sir Sol said he was extremely disappointed in the former PLP government for their “overwhelming support” of Baha Mar, knowing full well that the current Baha Mar agreement would violate the “most favoured nation” clause of the 2003 Heads of Agreement that the PLP signed with Kerzner International.
He said he thinks the Baha Mar deal is “ill conceived”.
“It seems to me pretty ridiculous in this current environment, even if the economic environment were a lot better, to look to come in and double the current number of rooms overnight. It seems to me pretty irresponsible.
“I also believe that one should take into account that we have 8,000 people working with us, and if this were to move forward the likelihood is that people’s jobs would have to be threatened. It is just impossible, practically impossible to double the size of the market.
“As we said in our statement, last year was a tough year and occupancy was under pressure. Well guess what, this year, is even tougher. So it seems pretty ridiculous to me that these folks are wanting to move forward. And obviously the Chinese are motivated because they see themselves pushing 8,000 jobs through this development. There is no way in the world that if there wasn’t that motivation that this project could be financed in this current environment,” Sir Sol said.
“I am still hopeful that the current administration will not bend to the PLP’s wishes, that the agreement they signed with us being broken. I am hopeful that Prime Minister Ingraham will not succumb to the pressures that the PLP seems to be putting on him.”
The savvy investor added: “I think it’s shocking quite honestly that agreements with government are violated. In all of our agreements, including our final agreement with the PLP was the most favoured nation clause which ensures, or is supposed to insure that no one, no investor, is to be granted terms more favourable and would have the same constraints.
“And I have to be clear, we had constraints which we complied with which government made us ensure that no more than 30 per cent of our construction work force was expat. This is very, very disappointing what is being contemplated, or recommended by the PLP is contrary to what we signed with them in 2003,” Mr Kerzner said.
Sir Sol said he still hopes that good sense will prevail in this whole matter.
“I still hold out hope that what’s being contemplated by Baha Mar will not happen as they have planned with their Chinese financier,” Kerzner said.