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Local companies still vying for Harmony Cove financing

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
The Harmony Cove original master design.

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Adviser at Price waterhouseCoopers on the Harmony Cove project, Wilfred Baghaloo, said National Commercial Bank (NCB), Sagicor Group and the National Insurance Fund (NIF), which are among a consortium of local interests aiming to participate in the resort development, will release funds when and as needed under phase one of the project.

Pushing back at recent reports that local participation was not critical in the earlier stage, Baghaloo explained that the local companies' commitment to provide between US$30 million and US$40 million (J$3.43 billion to J$4.57 billion) for phase one of the development was linked to the larger financing package in which Chinese financiers are also involved.

"It's one financing package with different components," Baghaloo told Sunday Business last week.

Last week, Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips said that Harmony Cove Limited had finalised a deal with a Chinese equity backer and was wrapping up a loan from a second Chinese financier for the first phase of the development which, at last estimate, will cost US$900 million.

However, according to Baghaloo, the investment by local partners is meant to demonstrate to international investors that there is local financial market interest in the project and, as such, local participation remained critical to the deal.

Mega casino

Harmony Cove's mega casino resort, located in Trelawny, is to be established by state-owned Harmonisation Limited and private partner Tavistock Group.

Harmony Cove Limited is one of two bidders seeking authorisation to develop casino resorts, which would require the company to build at least 1,000 hotel rooms in phase one of the development and another 1,000 rooms in the second phase.

The megaresort is designed to include golf courses, marina facilities, commercial developments, luxury hotels and private residencies. The plans also include a casino, convention and entertainment centres, restaurants and retail shops.

Harmony Cove project developers, having amassed 2,300 acres of landholdings in Trelawny for the project, have experienced delays due to a lack of funds.

NCB Group Managing Director Patrick Hylton is the current chairman of Harmonisation Limited and the chief executive officer is Richard Byles, chief executive officer of Sagicor Group Jamaica. The NIF is the state-run pension fund.