Survey shows investors against liquidating Buccament Bay Resort

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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb 8, CMC – The owners of the bankrupt Buccament Bay Resort, have welcomed a survey showing that the investors in the project are against liquidation.
In a statement, Harlequin, said that a survey of investors in Harlequin Property (SVG) Limited (HP SVG) found that 95 per cent wanted to avoid liquidation.
Buccament Bay Resort has been closed since December after its electricity was disconnected amidst financial problems, including an inability to pay its staff.
On Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament that at least four regional and international hotel groups “have expressed an active interest in managing” the resort.
“Indeed, I have met with four such entities,” Gonsalves said, adding that he is “constrained by reason of the legal and other processes to comment further.
“However, I assure everyone concerned that the government will not allow the Resort at Buccament to go to waste! It will be restored, expanded, and properly managed.  Meanwhile, let us permit the legal process through the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, and related laws, to work.
“This is not the first time that a hotel has failed in the Caribbean, or elsewhere, and restored to a better condition.  This is the nature of business and its attendant risks. The Minister of Economic Planning and I have recently discussed the relevant bundle of issues with the workers at the Resort who have lost their jobs,” Gonsalves said during his budget presentation.
In the statement, Harlequin which is reported to be in talks aimed at keeping the resort out of bankruptcy, said that the survey showed that 90 per cent of its investors found the key features of Harlequin’s upcoming proposal “appealing”, and 88 per cent support the idea of HP SVG investors owning all HP SVG assets, including Buccament Bay Resort.
Harlequin said it carried out the survey in the first week of February 2017 and received 700 responses, which represents 23 per cent of the 3,000 HP SVG investors.
Six questions were presented in the survey, followed by a rating of importance of the issue, to ascertain investors’ thoughts on a range of matters relating to the proposal process currently being played out in the St Vincent courts. The responses are being used by Harlequin to inform its final drafting of the Proposal, which has been made with input from investors.
The proposal, which is due to be finalised and put to HP SVG investors within weeks, will offer the investors ownership of the resort via a nominated group of creditors, along with related financial benefits, and a commitment by Harlequin to refurbish the resort for the investors using the damages recovered from its successful High Court judgment against former accountants Wilkins Kennedy.
If the Proposal is rejected, HP SVG and its assets will enter a liquidation process.
In December, a judge in England ordered that Wilkins Kennedy pay US$11.6 million to Harlequin Property (SVG) Ltd.  The sum represents half of the amount that the firm overpaid to ICE Group (SVG) Ltd., a contracting firm that worked on the resort between 2008 and 2010.
Harlequin is managed by its chairman, Britain-born Dave Ames, a fugitive from justice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where he is facing theft and tax evasion charges.
Ames, who acquired SVG citizenship on account of the Buccament Bay Resort investment, fled the country via speedboat in June 2016 as prosecutors swooped in on him.

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