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Stakeholders At Caymanas Park Say Yes To Divestment
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Close to 100 stakeholders at Caymanas Park yesterday voted unanimously to accept the proposals put forward by the Racing Divestment Committee for the acquisition of the racetrack from Government.
The group of investors, headed by noted owner Michael Bernard as chairman, plans to make an "unsolicited bid" for the 196-acre racing complex situated in Portmore. They intend to raise $750 million for the offer in conjunction with the Sagicor-controlled Pan Caribbean Bank, which will assist with any shortfall in funding by the group.
The Divestment Committee expects to formally place an offer before the Government by mid-January of 2013.
At a well-attended meeting in the North Lounge at Caymanas Park the committee, through Bernard, provided an update on the procedures, aims and objectives of this the latest thrust to acquire the facility on a 50-year lease agreement.
Committee members comprise Bernard, former chairman Richard Lake, former Caymanas Track Limited chairman and president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association Howard Hamilton, owners' association president Laurence Heffes, trainer Richard Azan, Dr Graham Brown, Garth Samuels and Dr Paul Wright, a former owners' association president, along with the heads of other associations, including the Vin Edwards-led Jamaica Racehorse Trainers' Association and the United Racehorse Trainers' Association led by Richie Todd. Lake and Azan will spearhead the technical committee.
The group is looking forward to raising a minimum of $500 million from the stakeholders within the industry (and elsewhere), with the rest being provided by the Pan Caribbean Bank, which is conducting a feasibility study.
Representatives of Pan Caribbean, including consultant to the bank, Racquel Goddard, and committee members will form part of a delegation to Gulfstream racetrack in Florida on December 9 as part of the feasibility study.
In addition to the unsolicited bid clause (no tendering process), some other key elements of the proposals are to use the facility solely for racing, gaming and entertainment purposes; provision of a tote monopoly; a minimum of $5,000 from each stakeholder as well as five per cent of the company's holdings to professional groups at no charge; improvement of stables and facilities; company to be listed on the Junior Stock Exchange, which provides for tax benefits, the use of advanced technology, including the advent of telephone betting as early as possible, among others things, including Caymanas Park to be designated a tourist attraction.