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Firm set to propose multibillion-dollar plan

Upgrade proposal: UMI and its financial backer will propose to the Government a plan to build a new Causeway

A firm with two Bermudian founders is set to propose a multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan to the Government.

Urban Maximum Industries, Inc (UMI), founded by Craig Looby and Arthur Brangman, wants to build a new Causeway and bridge in an initial project.

The company has secured the backing of International Asean Corp (IAC), which says it can provide as much as $5 billion for Bermuda projects from its ultra-wealthy investors, who are based in South-East Asia and the Middle East.

Peter Yeung, the Toronto-based managing partner of IAC, told The Royal Gazette that the company would be “making every effort to make the connections” to enable their vision to become reality. “Our investors prefer to remain anonymous and we are quite picky about what we choose to invest in,” he added.

IAC has worked on public and private-sector projects in the Bahamas, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, the United States, Canada, Vietnam, Cambodia and Saudi Arabia, Mr Yeung said.

The projects it has backed include hospitals, hotels and residential housing developments, according to IAC’s website, www.internationalaseancorp.com.

In a statement, UMI said its methods for funding public-sector projects would mean the Government would not have “to put up any significant cash”, would keep control over any government-sponsored projects and added there would be “no loss of revenue to the Government”.

Asked how the funding would work for the Causeway proposal, for example, neither Mr Yeung nor Mr Brangman wanted to give much away, although Mr Yeung emphasised that it would be wrong to describe the deal as a loan.

“Our investors are not looking at a dollar-value return on their investments,” Mr Yeung said. “Their mandate is to seek projects that are worthwhile to the citizenry; there is a humanitarian aspect to it.”

He gave the example of IAC’s Saudi Arabia project. “We are working with one of the Saudi princes in projects of between five and 15 years to build residential housing in the suburbs of Jeddah,” he said.

“This will benefit the community there, as well as having a business benefit.”

Mr Brangman, who is based in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and who is the president of Global Service Brokerage Group, which helps to fund business and real estate deals, said the UMI projects would include “very long-term repayment plans so it’s beneficial for everyone”.

Mr Brangman added: “We have set up a system by which investors will be well taken care of without the Government spending a whole lot of money.”

He declined to give more specific details.

Mr Yeung added that private-sector developments on the Island were also being considered, but funding for those projects would be offered on a more conventional basis than the deals for the public-sector projects.

In a statement to be released generally today, UMI states: “UMI is very pleased to announce that they have officially secured a funding programme for a diverse infrastructure and development programme called the UMI Bermuda Master Development Plan.

“The investment group has earmarked a $5 billion development-funding programme for use in UMI’s various deployment proposals.”

The programme would support the Government’s commitment to large-scale employment, set up a development fund to back government capital projects and construct a new Causeway and bridge, the statement added.

UMI has written to the Government to request a meeting with officials next month. Their aim will be to agree a memorandum of understanding to start a long-term relationship with the Island to deliver infrastructure projects in phases.

UMI said it will make public its master development plan when it is complete.

“We are asking the Government to be a partner,” Mr Looby said. “We are not asking them for money.”