December 15, 2014
Atlantic Hotel Inc (AHI) must, once again, correct a report in the Kaieteur News (11/12/14) headlined “Locals want $8M Marriott equity” which is untrue and completely misrepresents the facts. The Kaieteur News report alleges that “local businessmen who have expressed an interest in participating in the project…who have demonstrated capacity and financial ability” have been refused by NICIL.
The publication of this article itself serves to emphasize the deliberate policy of Kaieteur News to ignore the facts which have already been published in the media, including in its own newspaper, on the process of selecting the investor, and the announcement of the arrangements already in place many months ago. It underlines the absolute failure of Kaieteur News to publish objectively and truthfully and the newspaper’s determination to continue to publish mis-information on the investment in this project.
Since 2009, when the Hotel Project was first envisaged and before Marriott committed to the Project, government advertised for partners to design and implement the Project. After Marriott announced their decision to operate the Hotel in 2010, AHI published both internationally and locally, a series of advertisements, on 12 separate occasions, between January and March 2012 setting out the terms and conditions for an investor or investors calling for expressions of interest to participate in AHI’s Marriott Hotel Project Private Equity. The advertisements were also placed with all of the government’s Embassies and Consulates.
The advertisements invited bids for one or more participants to invest in 67% of AHI’s equity in the Marriott Hotel Project for an amount of US$8M with the Government of Guyana, through NICIL, owning 33% of AHI’s equity from an investment of US$4M.
Furthermore, the information contained in the advertisements was readily made available to the National Assembly by the Minister of Finance in a detailed response to questions submitted by the Opposition parties in March of 2012.
On that occasion, the Minister of Finance undertook to provide Parliament with a closed door presentation of the Feasibility Study, independently conducted in 2010 by HVS Consulting & Valuation. Major extracts were subsequently released to the media and have been widely published.
In a broadcast Press Conference held by Mr. Winston Brassington in September last year, he made the point then that “there is no secret investor. We sought to find an investor far and wide and the investor we selected was the only investor we are finally able to conclude matters with”.
In May of this year, AHI and Republic Bank Limited, responsible for concluding the arrangement of the US$27M in debt financing for the Hotel Project, jointly announced the names of the investor.
The opportunity, therefore, for a local investor or investors to participate in the ownership of equity in the Marriott Hotel Project has been in the public domain, in fact, since 2009 without the submission of a single serious proposal from a local investor.
Nothing has changed since then. Atlantic Hotel Inc., until an agreement was entered into with the current investor, had not received a single serious professionally documented proposal from any source, local or otherwise, in response to its advertisements.
Interestingly, the Kaieteur report coincides with correspondence recently received by NICIL from a person identifying himself as Guyanese living in Canada purportedly acting as a broker and requesting information about the possibility of investing in the hotel project. The individual concerned has received a response pointing out that the opportunity for investing in the hotel project had been advertised extensively over the last few years and that an investor has since been announced.