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Burt refuses to divulge details of Fairmont Southampton deal

Done deal: the Fairmont Southampton resort (File photograph)

David Burt said he was unable to answer questions from the Opposition on the controversial Fairmont Southampton contract because of the commercially sensitive nature of the deal.

But he did repeat his claim that the deal with hotel developer Gencom was “done”.

In the House of Assembly, Cole Simons, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, asked Mr Burt to disclose details of any conditions and items that remain “outstanding” in the Government’s negotiations with Gencom.

Mr Burt, who is also the Minister of Finance, said: “As I have previously indicated publicly, the parties continue to work on the various agreements that underpin this $430 million transaction which are as considerable and detailed as one would expect.

“It would be imprudent and not in the public interest to descend into the details of the commercially sensitive information in this setting or at all.

“Whilst I’m not refusing to answer the leader of the Opposition’s question, I will refer him to Standing Order 18.5 by which I am not bound to go beyond which I have shared based on my firm view that it is not in the public interest.”

But Mr Burt denied a suggestion from Mr Simons that the final agreement was “not ready for execution” or had not been “consummated”.

He replied: “That would not be correct. There is a the heads of terms which was signed. The deal is done.

“We are working through the closing documentation. There are multiple parties in this transaction – two different lenders, the owners, Government of Bermuda, and also the local lenders so there is significant work and transactions.

“The volumes of documentation that are going through, the multiple teams that are working to ensure that this document can be closed.

“So what the Opposition leader is saying is not correct. The deal has not closed because closing documentation is not yet complete.”

Mr Burt was equally evasive when asked to give a date when the agreement would be completed.

He replied: “The two critical timelines which all are working for is for the commencement of construction in the second quarter of this year and opening of the hotel in 2024.”

Last October Mr Burt told Progressive Labour Party delegates that the deal had been signed.

He said: “What we are doing is getting to the closing process, which takes 45 to 60 days.”

In his Reply to the Budget speech, Mr Simons said "a massive cloud of doubt" persisted on the redevelopment project.

He added: "There are those who have indicated that once the pending Special Development Order is completed and finalised, the hotel complex may be prepared for sale.

"There are others who feel that the emphasis will be placed on developing and selling the said villas to allow the owners and developers to enjoy a capital income stream which will feed the various development phases of this massive development project."

"Bermuda is desperate to have this 600-room hotel and its convention centre facility reopened within the next two or three years, as the rebirth of this landmark property will boost staffing levels, provide more career pathways for professionals in hospitality sector and revitalise Bermuda’s tourism industry.

"Can the Premier be honest and confirm where we stand with this multimillion dollar project?"

He added that the Budget's proposals for a remake of the Morgan's Point development sounded like "a fairytale".

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Published February 25, 2023 at 7:39 am (Updated February 25, 2023 at 7:39 am)

Burt refuses to divulge details of Fairmont Southampton deal

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