Global Ports Holding (GPH) has revealed that it intends to invest $250 million into the redevelopment of the Nassau cruise port if it is the winning bidder, and would facilitate the creation of a fund for Bahamians to purchase ownership in the redeveloped port.
Colin Murphy, GPH’s head of business development for the Americas, said the proposed ownership structure is that 49 percent of the port would be owned by GPH, with another 49 percent owned by a fund that would be created called the Bahamas Investment Fund, comprised of Bahamian shareholders.
“This was created in response to conversations we had that informed us that people want to have a little bit of ownership in this thing, they want to be a part of this opportunity, and so we’re designing a fund that would own 49 percent of the shares in the port and we’re super keen to make sure that local people can buy into this fund,” Murphy said during a meet and greet at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation yesterday.
“The minimum subscription is $1,000, which we know is still high for a lot people, so we’re going to provide interest free loans of up to $10 million for local people to get a stake in the pool. And then their loans will hopefully be paid back by the dividends the port generates and at the end of the day it’s almost like a free way for Bahamians to get some ownership in this thing and have some pride of ownership in the product.”
Murphy said the goal is to get 20,000 Bahamian shareholders to subscribe.
Murphy said a second foundation would be created called the YES Foundation, which would own the remaining two percent of dividends from the port, that would be used to support causes associated with youth, education and sports.
Of the $250 million GPH intends to invest, Murphy said the company has allocated $28 million as its financial commitment to local stakeholders, which would comprise $5 million in micro loans to entrepreneurs to help them expand and improve their small businesses, the $10 million in interest free loans to allow people to invest in the Bahamas Investment Fund, funding for the Downtown Nassau Partnership, a $3 million initial grant for the YES Foundation, and $2 million for the Small Business Development Centre’s Skills Development Program to support local artisans and farmers through the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation.
“We’re going to invest $250 million into this thing to make sure it’s great and to be honest, if there is something else that we felt really needed to be done to make it even greater, then we’re going to do that too,” he said.
Murphy said he has been assured that 99 percent of the workers during the construction period would be Bahamian.
Two other entities are also bidding to redesign, redevelop and manage the Nassau cruise port: a collective bid from several cruise companies with local representation by Bahamian businessman Gerald Strachan, and a group represented by Providence Advisors.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar has said a decision would be made following an evaluation period of 21 days.