CTFE in talks with Baha Mar brand partner
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) has come under intense scrutiny after announcing that it wants to buy Baha Mar, and while the conglomerate – known mostly for its gigantic jewelry business in China – continues to speak as though no deal is complete, Guardian Business can confirm that CTFE has already begun talks with the other brand partners, suggesting that the sale is a done deal.
One of the brand partners, who requested not to be named because it is “too premature to go to press”, confirmed that the company is “beginning its discussions with CTFE as part of its remobilization efforts”.
Said the partner, “We are very anxious and excited to move forward again.”
Meanwhile, in the CTFE ‘backgrounder’ accompanying the surprise announcement last week, the conglomerate, which Guardian Business has learned is one of Asia’s largest, said it was “looking forward to having Baha Mar join its portfolio of world-class integrated resort development projects”.
“We are widely recognized and supported by our customers, partners and other stakeholders. We are committed to integrity and good governance in all of our business operations across the globe and we will take this same approach in our development of Baha Mar.
“When clients choose to stay at Baha Mar, they also choose to experience the community and culture of The Bahamas. We are excited to create an experience in The Bahamas that showcases what we collectively have to offer the world. We are confident that Baha Mar will be a property that Bahamians can be proud of,” CTFE said.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises was part of the conglomerate built by Hong Kong billionaire and Macau gaming investor Cheng Yu-tung. It is reported that at the time of his death, Cheng’s conglomerate included Asia’s largest jewelry retailer, Chow Tai Foo, and real estate firm New World, both run by his son, Henry. He appeared on Forbes’ first ever international rankings of billionaires in 1987.
CTFE is owned by New World Development Company Limited, based in Hong Kong. New World was founded in 1970 by Cheng, and focuses on property, infrastructure and services, department stores and hotels.
NWS Holdings Limited (SEHK: 659) is the conglomerate flagship of New World Development. It was established in 2002 when its predecessor, Pacific Ports Company Limited, acquired New World Services Limited from New World Development and the infrastructure assets from New World Infrastructure Limited.
New World Department Store China Limited is a Hong Kong-based company engaged in department store operation in China. It is a subsidiary of New World Development.
Hip Hing Construction Company Limited is a main contractor in Hong Kong undertaking various types of building and civil engineering projects for government and private sectors. It is controlled by NWS Holdings.
Baha Mar negotiations
The company has asserted its intention to work with the government of The Bahamas to achieve the goal of “a phased opening”.
The company’s promises have elicited a blistering response from the $3.5 billion megaresort’s ousted original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian.
In a statement issued immediately upon publication of the CTFE news, Izmirlian reiterated that his offer to the China Export Import (CEXIM) Bank, which had fronted Izmirlian $2.45 billion to do the project and foreclosed on the shuttered development at the end of October 2015, was to beat any price offered by any other potential buyer.
Izmirlian has pointed out that he had thus far been ignored by CEXIM Bank and the receiver managers, Deloitte and Touche, which he called “bizarre”.
Izmirlian also pointed out that the CTFE press release clearly stated that it had not reached any agreement with CEXIM or Perfect Luck regarding its potential purchase of the Baha Mar asset but rather that it only has “entered into negotiations” in this regard and provides no financial details.
Said Izmirlian, “The fact is that a close reading of the Chow Tai Fook Enterprises press release makes clear that there is no deal between Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and CEXIM/Perfect Luck. If indeed Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and CEXIM/Perfect Luck are in negotiations, then it can only serve the interests of the seller and The Bahamas to have a competitive process to achieve the best outcome. BMD stands fully prepared to engage with the seller to achieve such.”