Over 20 Bids For Emerald Bay Resort

The Four Seasons at Emerald Bay Resort in Exuma, which was recently shut down, could soon have a new buyer. The government has confirmed that more than 20 companies have expressed an interest in buying the Family Island property.

Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes made the announcement during his 2009/2010 budget contribution in the Senate on Thursday.

The tourism industry has suffered mass layoffs in recent months due to the downturn in the economy and officials project even greater job losses over the summer months.

However, Mr. Foulkes said the Free National Movement (FNM) government is working steadfastly to ensure that Bahamian workers get some relief in the near future.

"I may add that over 20 persons or entities, according to the accountant who has jurisdiction over this matter, have put in bids and that the process of finding a new owner is well on the way," he said.

In May, the receivers of the Emerald Bay Development announced the "orderly closure" of the upscale property after failing to complete a contract sale.

At the time the receivers said, "At this stage, there is neither a preferred bidder, signed letter of intent nor is the project under contract with any party. It remains the stated intention for the secured creditor to realize its security in the project. The receivers will liaise with several interested parties who had previously expressed an interest in purchasing the project."

The closure left 500 workers– 83 managers and 442 line staff, 26 of whom are expatriates – out of jobs.

The resort stopped accepting guests on May 26.

Officials have maintained that the resort is "somewhat of a special case" as the resort was placed in receivership back in June 2007 after its directors concluded that EBR Holding Limited, developer of the 470-acre luxury community at Emerald Bay, was unable to pay its debts.

In the meantime, Minister Foulkes said the government is wasting no time in ensuring that the resort, which has become a driving force to that island's economy, is up and running soon.

He said that is why his ministry has also put measures in place to ensure that workers are fully prepared for the rebound.

"We sent down a team from the Ministry of Health to provide psychological counseling and stress-related counseling [for the workers]," he said.

"We sent down a team of financial advisors from BAIC and The Bahamas Development Bank, which was able to give financial advice to the employees. We also sent down a team from Social Services and [it was] on the site. We also sent down a team from the National Insurance Board to sign them up for the unemployment benefit program on the spot."

Minister Foulkes said the government is hoping to seal a deal to get Exuma's main economic driving force back up and running soon.

Source: The Bahama Journal
Last Updated on Monday, 29 June 2009 06:06