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Neal & Massy cuts losses disposing of Bajan hotel
Neal & Massy Holdings is in advanced talks to dispose of its loss-accummulating, 280-room Almond Casuarina Beach Resort in Barbados to Couples Resorts, one of Jamaica’s top hotel chains. In a response to questions sent by the Guardian, a Neal & Massy spokesperson said Couples would not be buying the Almond Causarina intially; that what was being negotiated was that the property would be leased to the Jamaican company, which would have an option to buy it at a later date.
The spokesperson declined to specify the lease payments or the period of the lease. The statement said: “Couples will lease the hotel and operate it as Almond Causarina until May 31st 2013, following which the hotel will be re-branded as Couples Resorts.”
The Montego Bay-headquartered company owns and operates four all-inclusive properties in Jamaica – Couples Tower Isle, Couples Sans Souci, Couples Swept Away and Couples Negril. Asked about the contracts that the workers have with the hotel, the spokesperson said: “With respect to workers’ contracts, those discussions are ongoing with the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) at this time, and can only be concluded upon completion of the transaction and signing of the lease.”
Efforts to contact the general secretary of the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman, at his office in Barbados proved futile. Almond Casuarina, one of three Almond hotels in Barbados, is located along the south coast of Barbados in the Maxwell Beach area on close to 10 acres of land. Neal & Massy sold the Almond Beach Club to Elite Island Resorts in July last year.
Neal & Massy Holdings acquired about 51 per cent of Almond Resorts after its takeover of Barbados Shipping and Trading in 2008. Almond Resorts and two other under-performing BS&T companies (Bahamas Supermarkets and Warrens Motors) negatively impacted the Neal & Massy Group’s results in 2010 and 2011 “with total losses to shareholders of $500 million,” according to the Port-of-Spain-headquartered company’s 2011 annual report.
In 2011, Neal & Massy made a $270 million provision against its carrying values for the Almond investments. That resulted in losses for 2011 from discontinued operations attributable to shareholders of $305 million.
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