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Davis wants Atlantis ownership deal made public

Deputy Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Philip Brave Davis yesterday called on the government to make public the agreements signed between Kerzner International and Brookfield, to put to rest the opposition’s concerns of possible layoffs at the Atlantis Resort.

Kerzner International Chairman and CEO Sir Sol Kerzner announced last week that his company has transferred ownership of Atlantis Resort and the One&Only Ocean Club to Canadian real estate conglomerate Brookfield Asset Management, one of his company’s lenders.

A press statement released by Kerzner International said Kerzner entered into an agreement in principle with the lender for its Bahamian and Mexican assets.

Brookfield has agreed to exchange approximately $175 million of debt for the equity of the Bahamian and Mexican companies, the statement said.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has said he received assurances that the approximately 8,000 jobs at the Paradise Island resorts are not under threat due to the change in ownership.

Yesterday, Davis said Kerzner’s employees in The Bahamas need more than words from Ingraham to feel confident about their job security.

“Unfortunately, Bahamians do not trust this FNM government to fight for them at the negotiating table,” said Davis, flanked by several PLP members, at a press conference held off East Bay Street.

“Time and again they have failed to put Bahamians first.  We demand that the government share the details of this deal with the Bahamian people.

“There are more than 7,000 Bahamian jobs at stake and much uncertainty existing in the minds of those 7,000 employees.

“What does the deal say about these jobs?  Are there guarantees in place to preserve these jobs?  What does the arrangement say in respect to wages and benefits?  If any provisions protecting jobs, wages and benefits were put in place what is the duration of these protections?”

Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder, who was also at the press conference, said several of his constituents, who are employed at Atlantis, shared similar concerns.

He added that not only are workers at Atlantis and the Ocean Club worried about the ownership change, but so are thousands of others who depend on business from the resorts and their workers.

“There are tens of thousands of indirect jobs and business that are affected by Atlantis,” Pinder said.

“If employment at Atlantis drops, all the ancillary businesses and jobs related to that are also negatively affected.

“It’s just a matter of transparency, a matter of knowing what the transaction is, so not only we can be comforted but the employees can be.”

Yesterday, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes echoed the prime minister’s stance on job safety at Kerzner’s Bahamian properties.

“We are confident that the jobs at Atlantis are secured,” Foulkes said.

At a press conference last week, Kerzner said he had received assurances from Brookfield that the change in ownership would not result in any job losses.

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