Fri, Oct 30th 2015, 09:27 PM
Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder yesterday approved an application from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China to send Baha Mar into receivership. The order paved the way for the appointment of three professionals from Deloitte and Touche, including Bahamian partner Raymond Winder, and two partners from its Beijing office, as receivers. Raymond Winder said that it is too early to say where this move leaves Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian.
"The one thing I will be doing is meeting with the JPLs (joint provisional liquidators); that's the most important thing," Winder said outside court. "They have been involved now for two months, so they have a lot of different things to tell me."
Winder planned to meet with the JPLs yesterday. Edmund Rahming, one of three JPLs appointed in September, said the group will work with the receivers to get Baha Mar open as soon as possible.
"We are going to sit down with the receivers and try to come up with a protocol as to how we work together moving forward to come up with the best strategic option to get the project open as quickly as possible," Rahming said outside court.
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. District of Delaware for 15 of its companies on June 29th. On September 15th, a U.S. judge dismissed the Chapter 11 cases relating to the company's Bahamian entities. On September 4th, Rahming of KRyS Global, Mark Nicholas Cropper and Alastair Beveridge of AlixPartners Services UK were appointed as joint provisional liquidators and tasked with overseeing the company.
Winder said receivership allows for the continuation of the process started by the JPLs.
"The only difference is that the EXIM bank itself has decided to take steps based on the powers that were [outlined] in the mortgage agreement," he said. "But in terms of results, in terms of what we are trying to accomplish, it's basically the same steps to get the resort open."
The substantive hearing for the winding up petition for Baha Mar was scheduled to happen on November 25. That petition was originally expected to be heard on Monday. Winder stressed that it is in everyone's interest for Baha Mar to open.
"Clearly that's our objective," he said. "The hotel sitting there and doing nothing doesn't do any of the stakeholders any interest."
Attorney Roy Sweeting, who appeared on behalf of Baha Mar, had no comment outside court yesterday. The move comes after 2,000 Baha Mar employees were laid off last week. In a letter to employees, the JPLs said they worked hard to facilitate discussions among the stakeholders in Baha Mar, which they said are ongoing and constructive, to identify a resolution to have the project completed and opened as soon as possible. However, the provisional liquidators said following a review of the financial affairs of the companies, "it is clear that the companies would not have sufficient cash available to continue to meet all operating costs, including maintaining employment at existing levels".
Prime Minister Perry Christie said on Saturday that the price tag to complete the development has gone from $300 million to $600 million and continues to rise. He added that he is "supremely confident" that Baha Mar will be complete and open for business with or without the full cooperation of the parties involved in the long-standing dispute.