Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd (CTFE), an investor in casino resorts in Macau, Australia and Vietnam, confirmed on Monday that it has signed an agreement to own and operate Baha Mar (pictured in a rendering), a stalled casino resort project in the Caribbean archipelago of the Bahamas.
The Hong Kong company did not provide any financial details regarding the acquisition price of Baha Mar. The former developer of Baha Mar – Baha Mar Ltd, led by businessman Sarkis Izmirlian – had previously mentioned a total budget of US$3.5 billion for construction of the casino resort.
The purchase agreement allows for the acquisition of all the issued capital of Perfect Luck Assets Ltd, a special purpose vehicle established by Baha Mar’s secured creditor – China Export-Import Bank – that holds the Baha Mar assets, CTFE said in Monday’s release.
“CTFE will dedicate significant, ongoing investment and resources towards the pre-opening and opening of Baha Mar Resort,” said Graeme Davis, president of CTFE’s Bahamas subsidiary, in a statement included in the release.
CTFE said it plans to invest US$200 million to support “pre-opening activities as well as the redevelopment of the … beachfront Crystal Palace Casino Hotel site, and the development of additional family-friendly amenities, entertainment venues and offshore island facilities”.
The casino scheme is to begin a phased opening in April next year, Perry Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, said last week.
CTFE said in Monday’s release that phase one of the project would include the hotel, casino, convention centre and golf course. The company estimated that more than 1,500 jobs would be created for the first phase.
The company added that it is recruiting a “team of executives from internationally recognised brands”. It added that it plans to begin recruiting employees for the casino resort in the New Year.
In its latest press release, CTFE said it is already in discussions with hotel brands previously involved in the Baha Mar project, including Grand Hyatt and SLS Hotels. The company also intends to bring its own subsidiary, Rosewood Hotel Group, as a luxury hotel operator at Baha Mar, it added.
“We are delighted to have CTFE join Baha Mar Resort as the owner and developer, leveraging its expansive network and resources to open new markets and opportunities for the Bahamas that will deliver great benefits to the island and our people,” said the Prime Minister of the Bahamas in a statement also included in the release.
“The government is confident that CTFE has the precise capabilities and track record to successfully complete and operate Baha Mar Resort from both a lodging and casino perspective,” added Mr Christie.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr Christie did not disclose the sale price of Baha Mar, adding that the negotiated agreement between CTFE and China Export-Import Bank was still sealed by the court.
Privately-held CTFE’s businesses span hospitality, property development and retail, including retail chain Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, part of Hong Kong-listed Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd.
Henry Cheng Kar Shun, chairman of CTFE, has been a non-executive director of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd since 2013.
CTFE acquired a controlling stake in a US$4-billion Vietnam casino project in September 2015. The company is also involved in the development of a casino resort in Brisbane, the capital of the Australian state of Queensland.
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”We expect Goa to quickly become a US$1 billion market as it transitions to land-based casinos (from US$150 million today), which is still just a fraction of India’s total GGR potential of US$10 billion to US$17 billion”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia