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Opportunities beyond Almond

Crane operator has major plans for growth without 'Village'

craneresortThe Crane Residential Resort has not withdrawn from the race to purchase Almond Beach Village despite Government’s move to become the preferred buyer.

But amid uncertainty about the likely outcome of its offer for the St. Peter property, Crane owner Paul Doyle said next month it would offer institutional investors in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica a chance to pump $80 million into its operations, and in so doing allow it to look for opportunities beyond Almond.

Between next month and September the investor hoped to raised the funds via the private placement of preference shares, noting that an intended Initial Public Offering would take place subsequently at a date to be determined.

Doyle suggested during an interview with Barbados TODAY that the apparent need by authorities here “to move quicker” might have placed the Crane move to buy Almond at a disadvantage, noting he was not prepared to pursue the deal until the share offering took place. Crane, the trading name for Millennium Investments Limited, is offering eight million preference shares at $10 each, an initiative being facilitated through the Bank of Nova Scotia in Jamaica and CIBC First Caribbean International Bank here and Trinidad.

“Late last year we decided pre IPO we would do a private placement of preference shares to institutional investors regionally and that is actually just about to start. It won’t be going over the entire summer time so it will be late August and during the month of September for completion and that will allow us some growth here,” Doyle said.

“It’s a US$40 million offering. The initial feedback has been good. It’s just regional, so it’s Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados.”

The hotelier said as of today there was no firm date for the share offer to end, but that it would be “some time in September”

“It would normally go quicker than that but during the summer a lot of people are on holiday so typically not a lot happens until September,” he explained.

“Bascially it’s to raise equity. There are opportunities for growth in tourism and we want to take advantage of that.”

Doyle also said his company had not withdrawn its offer for Almond, but was short on detail information on the overall status of the closed hotel, specifically Government’s counter offer.

“We have not been able to move forward because our offering hasn’t happened and I am not prepared to do it without the offering having been completed so I think they see a need to move quicker,” he said.

“There is a lot of opportunity and I don’t know anything more about it right now than what I read in the newspapers so you probably know more than I do.”

The Crane’s Almond original proposal was to purchase the property with a view of reopening about 100 rooms for winter 2012, close and demolish all other sections of the property, before rebuilding in sections commencing with the beach front, and developing a new hotel and time share venture with approximately 500 keys. (SC)

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