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
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.
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
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.