Decision time

3Cabinet could make a final decision as

early as Thursday on the sale of the US$80

million Four Seasons property, taking the

upmarket 30-acre beachfront lands out of

Government hands and placing them firmly

into those of one of two billionaire-led

foreign investment groups with deep pockets

and big investment plans for the island.

Senior Government officials also

confirmed today that executive chairman

Avinash Persaud no longer had any role to

play in the sale process, which was previously

handled by Paradise Beach Limited under

his chairmanship.

Persaud, who was been absent from

the spotlight in recent months, could not

be reached for comment today, but one

official explained that once Government had

agreed last year to put a technical working

committee in charge of finding a buyer for

the luxury development, which has been lying

dormant since 2009, Persaud was officially

out of the picture.

“There is nothing else for him to do,” said

the official, with intimate knowledge of the

Four Seasons bidding process.

In the meantime, Government’s technical

committee, set up earlier this year to

review the sale and to make an official

recommendation, has reportedly completed

its work. The choice to be made is between

two lucrative bids. One entered by Colony

Capital, a multimillion-dollar private equity

fund, led by real estate mogul Thomas

Barrack Jr, and the other by an Singapore

concern backed by Malaysian hotel and

property tycoon Ong Beng Seng.

The recommendation now goes before

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, who could

communicate to Cabinet in two days’ time.

In anticipation of a final decision, Matthew

Bishop, spokesman for Colony Capital, has

been in the island since last week holding

talks with various Government officials,

among them Minister of Tourism Richard

Sealy, Minister of International Business

Donville Inniss, Minister of Housing and Lands

Denis Kellman and Minister of Agriculture Dr.

David Estwick.

However, Bishop, who had previously met

with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart back in

October, has been unable to secure a meeting

with the Finance Minister.

He is anxious for a decision on Four

Seasons and is strongly urging Government to

sign off on the deal.

“. . . When I was down here last time, I

met with the Prime Minister and [Minister

of Tourism] Richard Sealy and they said that

their intent was to have this thing resolved

within a week, two weeks.

“That was the 15th of October. Now I

understand that since then, political things

have come up. I understand that Minister

Sinckler just had a vote of no confidence

awhich he defended successfully. So I’m

reasonable about all of that, but when you are

sitting in the United States and you are not

really familiar with the process and all that is

going on here, you question, ‘Well, why is it

taking so long?’,” Bishop said.

In an exclusive interview with Barbados

TODAY, he also revealed that Colony

Capital had in mind major development plans

for Four Seasons that would amount to over

US$300 million in construction costs over the

next three years and between 800 and 1,500

new jobs.

Other significant capital works projects are

also in the pipeline, including a full rebranding

of the Apes Hill golf course into a Four

Seasons golf and polo club.

The group, which had earlier considered

making an investment in the Almond St. Peter

property, is also talking in terms of other

tourism developnent projects.

However, Bishop warned that his group’s

investment plans for the island all hinged

on its success with its Four Seasons bid.

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