UPDATE 2-Bahamas PM plans to seize unfinished $3.5 bln Baha Mar resort
(Adds comment from Baha Mar developer)
By Tim McLaughlin
July 17 (Reuters) - Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie plans to take control of an unfinished $3.5 billion mega resort, currently tied up in a corporate bankruptcy process, and push it through to completion to help bolster his country's fragile economy.
Christie, in a speech Thursday night, called for liquidators to take control of the Baha Mar resort and casino project. A fully operational resort would employ about 5,000 people and boost the Bahamas' gross domestic product by more than 10 percent.
"The completion of the Baha Mar resort is a matter of the utmost national importance," Christie said. "Baha Mar must open."
Talks this week in Beijing between the project's main lender, China's export import bank, and the developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, have not resolved how to fund the resort's completion, Christie said.
Izmirlian's Baha Mar Ltd said the move by the Bahamas government jeopardizes the resort's assets and future, according to a statement issued on Friday. Izmirlian's family has invested more than $900 million in the project.
"In effect the government of the Bahamas legal maneuvers are an attempted nationalization of a private investor's assets," the statement said. The developer said talks with the Chinese continued on Friday.
Meanwhile, Christie said the Bahamas attorney general will proceed with compulsory or involuntary liquidation proceedings with the ultimate goal of opening the resort. Continuación...