Having already missed its target end of October date for the closing of the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar was still not in a position yesterday to say when the deal would be finalized.
In March, the government signed a letter of intent with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) and the ITM Group for the purchase of the resort and the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour, however Hurricane Dorian – packing destructive Category 5 winds – caused negotiations to slow down.
“That process inches closer every day but we are still not at the point where we are prepared to sign a deal. There are a lot of things that have changed since we decided to enter into negotiations with RCCL and ITM,” he told reporters outside of the Churchill Building yesterday.
“Of course a hurricane has hit Grand Bahama, that has caused some damage to the hotel, of course the insurance adjusters have to come in and do their evaluations, that process is ongoing so that has sort of set us back a little bit and we’re waiting for that process to work its way through. What I can say about the negotiations is they are proceeding as I would think quite well. RCCL and ITM are very interested in proceeding forward and so the negotiations are ongoing.”
After pausing due to the storm, the government resumed talks with the purchasers in early October.
An initial assessment by the government immediately following Dorian found that the resort had sustained “very little damage”.
Pressed by reporters about a timeline for when he anticipates negotiations to wrap up and a deal be signed, D’Aguilar said, “In the quickest possible time.
“Obviously there are negotiations and I don’t want to limit the government by the press saying, oh you said this date and then the person I’m negotiating with knows that I’ve made that date and therefore it kind of takes away my negotiation cards,” he continued.
The government purchased the resort from Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa last year for $65 million, with an initial capital investment of $32.4 million.