|Brookfield fails to deny Atlantis sale|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Aug 22, 2012
Brookfield Asset Management has remained noncommittal concerning strong indications from the business community that the Paradise Island resort could once again be up for sale.
Just four months since the closing, the iconic property has fallen into a familiar realm of uncertainty. However, one thing is abundantly clear: Brookfield is not denying the resort is for sale.
Andrew Willis, senior vice president of communications and media, did not confirm or deny whether the Canadian multinational is courting potential buyers.
When asked by Guardian Business if Brookfield was entertaining offers for Atlantis, he said: “No comment.”
Senior executives at Kerzner International, former owners and now managers of Atlantis, confirmed to Guardian Business that directors were recently on the ground to hold a series of meetings.
Executives would not provide specifics from those meetings. However, according to top sources familiar with the matter, Brookfield is becoming "increasingly aggressive" to off-load their interests here in The Bahamas.
In April, after multiple disputes with rival lenders, the conglomerate finalized a deal whereby it exchanged $175 million of debt for ownership of Atlantis and the One&Only Ocean Club.
The deal ended more than a year of speculation and negotiations concerning Kerzner's restructuring of $2.6 billion in mortgage debt.
"When they (Brookfield) bought this, everyone understood they were not long-term investors," one source said. "They were finance people. The way these things are done, people who need to know, know that if you make me an offer, the answer is yes. They are now floating it around the street."
The news would indeed confirm many of the fears put forth by prominent members of the Bahamian business community.
James Smith, a former state minister of finance, said Bahamians must view the acquisition for what it really is - an investment. He expressed concern that, unlike Sir Sol Kerzner, top executives at Brookfield are not hoteliers.
"They are looking for the best returns in a bad market. It's a good property, and if someone comes along and offers a good price, why not take it? We can't just sit back and breathe a sigh of relief," Smith said, who is now a key advisor to the Christie administration.
Back in November 2011, when Brookfield first came forth as a buyer, the company insisted it had "no plans to sell in the foreseeable future". The acquisition fit with Brookfield's strategy to pursue "irreplaceable, high quality assets" in a distressed market.
"It’s is not their long-term interest," said a source close to the matter.
"It is truly in the country's interest for it to end up in the hands of people who are long term. It would be helpful if an investor bought this and did things to better position the property to compete in a sustainable way with Baha Mar."
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 August 2012 17:57|