Baha Mar Finalizes Financing With Chinese Bank

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Baha Mar yesterday finalized its financing agreement with the Chinese Export-Import Bank, clearing the way for the immediate launch of the $2.6 billion project.

The official groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for February 21, 2011, with construction to commence immediately.

"This is a historic day for the Baha Mar team as well as all Bahamians as we begin construction and deliver to The Bahamas this unique one-of-a-kind world-class destination resort," Sarkis Izmirlian, chairman and chief executive officer of Baha Mar, said in a statement sent to Guardian Business yesterday.

"Our management team has accomplished a major milestone and there is much to be proud of.  We thank our partners, financiers, Export-Import Bank of China, general contractor and investor, and China State Construction and Engineering, as well as the government and people of The Bahamas, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, for taking this leap of faith and for placing their trust in us.  We are committed to delivering the immediate and long-term economic benefits to Bahamians both from its construction and eventual operations, and to give opportunities to thousands of Bahamians who can now look forward to a better future."

Baha Mar's Vice President?of Government and External Affairs Robert Sands told Guardian Business, "A year from now we envision the re-routing of West Bay Street complete, the Commercial Village complete, and that super structure for the new Baha Mar hotels will begin to emerge out of the ground."

After much anxiety and concern about whether it would actually come to fruition, Baha Mar just recently presented letters of intent to the contractors who will participate in the construction of the Commercial Village, part of the project's $60 million first phase.

That followed Bahamas Hot Mix and Bahamas Marine Construction coming together in a joint venture to execute road works worth over $40 million as a part of the first phase of the Baha Mar project. The companies made it to the final round of the bidding process and were both selected to complete the West Bay Street/Corridor 7 roadworks, expected to generate 100 direct jobs and another 100 indirect jobs.

The roadworks are expected to begin in mid-January and the project is expected to take nine months to complete, said President of Baha Mar Don Robinson.

According to Sands, the road construction will take place on areas of land that are currently not being used.  He said this first part of the construction project would utilize 100 percent Bahamian-owned and managed firms, and there was no stipulation that either materials or labor be sourced from China.

Baha Mar anticipates that the contracts will result in 300 direct jobs and another 150 indirect jobs.  Local contractors said that just to put bids together, on average they had to subcontract 10 to 14 parts of their projects to small local companies, each employing about three to four people. Some 4,000 Bahamians are anticipated to be employed over the construction period of Baha Mar, which is expected to be completed in 2014.

Baha Mar announced earlier its new hotel brand partners — including Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Morgans Hotel Group and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts — which will be new major hotel operators for the Cable Beach Resort Area. Baha Mar will add about 2,200 new rooms to the tourism market in New Providence once completed.

The entire Baha Mar project is forecasted to stimulate a cumulative $11.2 billion over the next 20 years to The Bahamas' gross domestic product including 12,000 new jobs. With 430,000 additional guests projected to visit The Bahamas annually, the revenues generated are slated to increase the average annual income for a Bahamian family from $29,000 to $33,500 in the first year, according to Baha Mar.

The company estimates it will employ a 98 percent Bahamian staff.

The Nassau Guardian