(CNS Business): Following a ruling last week in the Cayman Islands Grand Court by Sir Peter Cresswell, the developer of the Ritz Carlton, Michael Ryan, has denied any wrongdoing, claiming it is he who is owed millions of dollars and that he intends to fight the case against him and pursue his counter claims to the end.
Denying that he had taken any money from the companies relating to Cayman’s five-star resort, Ryan stated that he is the one being wronged in what is becoming a complex dispute and described the actions against him by the receivers as “surprising and desperate”, which he said would be revealed in his defense due to be filed in the courts next month. Read more on CNS Business
http://www.caymannewsservice.com/sites/default/files/u5/ritz-grand_cayman.jpg%5B/img%5D(CNS Business): The reserve price for the sale of the Ritz-Carlton-Grand Cayman has been slashed from US$250 million to US$177.5 million, according to documents from Eastdil Secured Ltd, the specialist firm holding the auction later this month. The five-star resort is set to go under the hammer as RC Cayman Holdings LLC seeks to recover a debt owed to the firm by the previous companies, formerly owned by Michael Ryan, that it seized earlier this year through legal action. However, the reserve price has been cut by around 30% and falls short of the total outstanding loan amount of US$234 million plus interest, which it purchased for an undisclosed sum in May 2011 before calling in the debt. Read more on CNS Business http://www.caymannewsservice.com/sites/default/files/u4/ritz%20training.jpg%5B/img%5DCNS Business): RC Cayman Holdings LLC secured ownership of the Ritz Carlton-Grand Cayman Resort this morning after the highest value real estate auction in the history of the Cayman Islands. The company which had seized ownership of the hotel from developer Michael Ryan bought the hotel at its own auction meeting the reserve price of US$177.5 million which it had set reduced from an earlier price of $250 million.The property was sold as a block, including the 136 acre resort with the nine-hole Blue Tip Golf Course and future development land. In a release Wednesday the new owners said they were committed to maintaining and enhancing the status of the resort as a worldâ€class destination. Read more on CNS Business. http://www.compasscayman.com/uploadedImages/CayCompass/ritz-carlton,-grand-cayman-award-(Read-Only).jpg" alt="left" title="left" class="bbcode-image" /> New Ritz-Carlton owners met of Grand Cayman’s media Wednesday.
James Glasgow and David Lattimer from Five Mile Capital Partners restated their position that it does not owe the CI government $6 million in deferred duty and that the US$177.5 million auction price of the resort property was based on “an impartial valuation agreed to by government”. Five Mile is the owner of local company RC Cayman Holdings, which purchased the Ritz at auction 31 October.
“We do not owe the duty that Mr. Ryan owes,” said Mr. Glasgow, referring to the deferred duty payments that government alleged it was owed by receivership companies formerly controlled by Ritz developer Mike Ryan.
Mr. Glasgow and Mr. Lattimer said local firm Chartlerland pegged the value of the property at US$177.5 million, and that value was OK’d in writing by the government’s Valuation and Estates Office.
Last week in Legislative Assembly McKeeva Bush said the auction price was far lower than the US$468 million value assigned by a valuer in 2007,referring to a January 2007 valuation performed by property consulting firm BCQS.
Saying that 2007 valuation may have been used to obtain the US$232 million in credit from Credit Suisse that was eventually acquired by Five Mile, Mr. Lattimer said, “At some point, someone believed that was the value.”
Mr. Lattimer said any attempts by the CI government to collect stamp duty on the Ritz sale based on the US$468 million value rather than the US$177.5 million auction price could lead to litigation and may cripple the company’s plans for the Ritz. “The hotel might shut down,” he said.
On island from Monday to Wednesday, Mr. Glasgow and Mr. Lattimer visited with the Ritz management company, toured Grand Cayman by helicopter and met with the press at the office of the firm’s legal representatives Conyers, Dill and Pearman. They also planned to meet with Governor Duncan Taylor and perhaps Deputy Governor Franz Manderson – but not with the premier or members of his government.
(CNS): The premier has said he does not believe the Ritz Carlton has decreased in value as much as the recent sale suggests and that he will not let the new owners have any new licences or work-permits until government has examined the sale. In a speech transmitted on the government’s new TV channel on Thursday night, McKeeva Bush said that the hotel could not have depreciated by more than half. He said it may have fallen by 20% or even 25% but he did not believe it was down by more than 50% of the $460 million valuation made in 2007. Bush said he would ensure that government got the correct stamp duty on the sale, and that he would collect on the $6 million duty debt that he claimed the new owners were now liable for.
Responding to comments by the new owners that they had reached out to government in an effort to negotiate concessions over the planned investment in the hotel and offered to pay the outstanding duty debt but had heard nothing from the premier ahead of the auction, Bush claimed he did write to them.
“Government responded to the request letter of June 14th from … Mr Jim Glasgow of Five Mile Capital in Connecticut, on October 5th,” Bush stated, adding that claims by the new owners’ legal representative, Richard Finlay, of Conyers Dill & Pearman, that he had not were “ludicrous.”
“For him to say such a thing about the government in an attempt to pressure us to agree to things we should never do is an insult, not just to me but the entire duly elected and empowered government,” Bush added.
Linking the entire issue of the Ritz to what he said were Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin’s attempts to be the next premier at all costs, Bush accused thim of being willing to let the country suffer “as a result of his shenanigans” to be in the premier’s chair. He denied that he had missed the chance to recoup the duty debt waiver given to the former owner, Michael Ryan, and his various companies but continued to blame McLaughlin.
“There is no level of hypocrisy and lies that the leader of the opposition will not stoop to in an attempt to blacken my name and the name of the Cayman Islands,” Bush said in his live broadcast to the country. “Do they really expect people to take them seriously when for years they have accused me over and over again of getting involved with investors and making deals.”
Referring to the fact that Finley is a former colleague of the opposition leader, although it is more than twelve years since they worked together, the premier added, “And to now stand in the House and accuse me of acting improperly, claiming I did not get involved and make a deal that would benefit a client of a law firm that the leader of the opposition has, or has had, a close relationship with and is his old colleague, being in the same firm.”
In a surprising comment the premier said the people should know better than to think he would “give away things rightly due to the people of these Islands”, regarding the concessions. He added that he would never do anything except what is in the best interests of the people of these islands, and especially not to help any group to the detriment of the people.
“There is a proper process to be followed and the government has the right to be paid what it is properly due and I will see that this is done,” he said in relation to the $6 million which is theoretically owed by one of the insolvent companies seized by the new owners, all of which were formerly owned by the developer Michael Ryan.
Bush said the new owners could not expect him to give up the kind of revenue involved in the concessions they wanted. He listed what he said were the “massive concessions” they had “demanded” or they would not meet any of their obligations to pay government the deferred duty that the hotel owes. (See the statement below)
“This is not how things are done in the Cayman Islands, despite them getting the support of the leader of the opposition by his criticism of me, this government does not give in to threats and ultimatums and they were told so in my letter to them on October 5th, a fact conveniently omitted by both the leader of the opposition and his lawyer friend, Mr Finley,” Bush added.
In a press briefing Wednesday, the new owners said they had put forward a list of possible concessions based on the planned long-term investment into the property but none of it was set in stone. Glasgow told the press, “We are logical people,” as he explained that Five Mile had always been willing to negotiate.
However, Bush, who, under the ForCayman Investment Alliance, signed a deal to give 50% of the tax take to the Dart Group (among many other benefits) for all of the hotel properties that company builds or buys, said the concessions that Five Mile wanted were “unacceptable”, beginning with the valuation level of the hotel.
“We know, and they know, that the real value of the Ritz-Carlton is far more than …$177 million. I know that as recently as 2007 the hotel and land was valued by a third party quantity surveyor at over $468 million,” he said, referring to a valuation conducted to assist the former owner raise financing .
Bush said that, using the legal stamp duty rate of 7.5%, government should have received over $37.5 million if the hotel was sold for what he believed it was worth.
However, the new owners said they had marketed the hotel to more than a 1,000 investors, and on the day of the auction only one other bidder turned up. That bidder is believed to be Dart, who refused to even bid the reserve price, saying it was far too high. Nevertheless, Bush insisted that the Ritz value could not have fallen so much, claiming that real estate values have held up fairly well in Cayman.
“No one can tell me that the Ritz hotel and all that property only values $177 million today when just a few years ago it was over $400 million … It could not have deteriorated more than 50%. No!” he declared.
The premier also claimed that had he given in to the new owners’ requests for concessions, it would have resulted in millions more losses for government. “The offer to pay the $6million “came with many strings attached, strings that could add up to over $70 million dollars and set dangerous precedents for future governments when dealing with investors,” Bush claimed in his address.
“I have asked the land registry to check into the sale and do all things properly and by the book. They chose to buy the loan of the hotel with full knowledge of the obligations of the hotel and requirements under the law for stamp duty and other fees. They now choose to try and threaten the government to dissuade it, with the help of their friends in the opposition, solicited or not, from doing what it properly needs to do,” the premier added.
Despite numerous criticisms from many quarters about the current administration not always following due process, Bush stated his government would follow all proper processes and the proper regulations, assess the proper value and demand that the appropriate stamp duty be paid before any transfer is made.
“Government will continue to demand its due payment of the deferred stamp duty and will expect it to be paid before any consideration is given to any request for new licenses, work permits or any other of the things that government does on a day-to-day basis in relation to the operation of the hotel,” he said. “I believe that the leader of the opposition took the opportunity to castigate me and it came as a good defence of the people his lawyer friend represents, who don’t want to pay the government the $6 million.
Bush added that the opposition leader “and his friends who wrote in the press should, rather than mocking and insulting me, explain why they think government should give away such a badly needed windfall to people who have not shown any care or concern at all for the Cayman Islands or its people.”
He reiterated that the owners chose to buy the hotel knowing the laws of the Cayman Islands.
“They know they have to pay after the government assessment is done, and pay they will. These are the kind of things that I have always fought against, with those who think they can trample on the Cayman Islands while conveniently making me look bad as I battle for the rights of the people of these islands, and I’m not about to give up on anything because I am right,” Bush insisted.
Just to let everyone know that the definition courts use when defining property value is what a willing Seller is ready to accept and a willing Buyer is willing to give. McKeeva Bush is or was a Real Estate Agent and should know this. If no other buyers were willing to come forth with a better offer after the exposure to the market that this has had then the price payed is the value of the Ritz. This is Market Value and no appraiser or Govt official can change this unless there is some sort of skullduggery. The sale time and Auction way of selling was widely known but the usual crying and whining about money owed is there because the Govt didn’t play by the rules of a Court ordered sale.
Ryan ‘authors’ Ritz statement
Posted on Mon, 11/26/2012 – 18:24 in Politics
(CNS): A statement delivered by the premier via government’s new television channel last week about the Ritz Carlton and the outstanding duty owed on it may have been written or approved by the former owner of the Ritz Carlton, Michael Ryan. According to the properties on the Word document posted on CNS below, it was ‘authored’ by Ryan on a computer at Stingray Construction, one of the companies he still owns that was established during the development of the luxury resort. The details of the authorship on the copy of the statement released by the premier’s office were picked up by the opposition leader, who has called on McKeeva Bush to say if he was speaking on Ryan’s behalf or as premier of the Cayman Islands.
The statement concerned the outstanding $6 million in duty missing from government coffers that was owed by the companies Ryan previously owned but which were seized by RC Cayman Holdings, the new owners who bought the hotel at auction. In the statement the premier discussed the current situation at the Ritz Carlton and was critical of the new owners, the sale price and other issues regarding the concessions that they had asked for.
Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin came under attack from the premier in the statement, not least because he has raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly, where he suggested that Bush had missed an opportunity to negotiate with the new owners, who were offering to pay the bad debt even though they were not legally liable.
In the address delivered by Bush on government TV on Thursday, which for some reason appears to have been authored by Ryan, Bush denied missing a chance to negotiate with RC Cayman Holdings, accusing them of undervaluing the hotel at auction and insisting that he would get the duty from them as they were now responsible.
In a statement released Monday evening, McLaughlin said it was critically important that the premier was honest about who wrote the statement and how Ryan’s name and company came to be stamped electronically on the document.
“When the Ritz-Carlton property was being developed in 2002 the government, led by Mr Bush, who was then Leader of Government Business, granted various concessions to Michael Ryan, the developer,” McLaughlin stated, explaining why Ryan had been in the position of owing government so much money.
The PPM administration pursued the outstanding debt throughout their tenure and Ryan and his companies paid in quarterly instalments until 31 March 2009. However, after the elections in May 2009, when the UDP took office, the payments stopped and none have been made since.
“On behalf of the people of this country, I now call on the premier to provide a full and frank explanation of his relationship with Michael Ryan and to tell us why his government has not collected any of the outstanding duties payable by Michael Ryan … or his companies. Further, he must explain why he has compounded the situation by squandering the opportunity afforded by the recent sale of the Ritz-Carlton to recover the outstanding $6M which, had he acted in a timely and competent manner, the country could have obtained,” McLaughlin said.
“The premier must explain how it is that the statement which he made on 22 November … was authored by Michael Ryan and prepared at the offices of Stingray Construction, one of Ryan’s companies,” he added. McLaughlin further stated that Bush’s accusation about him and his relationship with one of RC Holdings’ legal representatives, Rick Finlay, of Conyers Dill & Pearman, were unfounded.
“Because I raised the issue of his mishandling of this issue, which has caused the country to lose $6M, the premier has attacked me and inferred that somehow I am defending RC Holdings and alleged that I have some association with Rick Finlay or Conyers Dill Pearman, who act for RC Holdings,” the opposition leader stated.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. I ceased active practice in the firm of Charles Adams, Ritchie and Duckworth, where I was a partner with Rick Finlay, following my election for the first time in 2000, some12 years ago. I retired from the firm completely in 2004 and have had no association with the firm or Rick Finlay since,” McLaughlin said, before demanding that the premier had some explaining to do about his relationship with Ryan.
It’s all about bringing the authentic taste of Italy to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Periwinkle restaurant.
Chef Stefano Attende hails from Naples, which due to its location in between the mountains and the sea has a cuisine including fresh produce and exceptional seafood.
“It is all about fresh ingredients, simple and healthy,” Chef Attende said. “Also, the pizza was born in Naples. The Pizzeria de Michele is one of the originals and only serves two kinds of pizza – margarita and marinara. When I was there last year, there were 60 people waiting to get in. It is so light and soft, super-light in fact.”
Mr. Attende studied at culinary school in the United States and underwent management training at Palm Springs for the opening of Le Meridien. He has also worked in Italy, Miami, France and Switzerland.
“I got a phone call from the first executive chef that was here [at The Ritz-Carlton]. My resume was on file and I came for the opening of Blue. I was 21, did not know where Cayman was and thought, ‘why not?’. I then went to Dubai, the Seychelles, back to Switzerland then decided to come back to Cayman.
“I missed the beach, the sun. If you like peace and serenity this is the place to be and I knew how high the standard of the restaurant was.” He returned in 2009 to Periwinkle, which was always an Italian and Mediterranean-angled restaurant.
“We are doing everything we can to keep it authentic Italian,” he said of the revamped menu.
“These are the typical dishes that you will find if, for example, you go and eat the same dish in Sicily. We eat it here like they eat there, like swordfish or tuna. I realised that many guests who travelled to Italy wanted to find that authentic experience here, too.”
The restaurant is open to non-guests of the resort, he said.
http://www.compasscayman.com/uploadedImages/caycompass/2012/11/28/Mike%20Ryan.jpg%5B/img%5DCFP: Questions were raised this week about whether Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush was speaking on behalf of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman developer Michael Ryan during a broadcast statement issued last Thursday.
The statement, made public on the government television channel Thursday evening, 22 November, provided a lengthy account of Premier Bush’s take on the Ritz property’s new owners, their attorneys and who owes government $6 million in deferred duty payments stemming from Mr. Ryan’s tenure as property developer and owner.
A previous draft of the statement, issued to two local media outlets on Wednesday, 21 November, listed as part of the “properties” on the document that the author was “Michael Ryan” and the company was “Stingray Construction” – one of Mr. Ryan’s companies.
However, it was unclear whether the Wednesday, 21 November statement was ever broadcast in full on the government television channel. A revised version aired Thursday.
The Caymanian Compass printed neither version of the statement for legal reasons. Claims made in both statements were substantially reported in the Compass previously, based on comments Mr. Bush made in the Legislative Assembly about The Ritz-Carlton matter.
On Monday, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin questioned who was running government’s show with regard to the Ritz situation.
“I must insist, on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands, that the premier tells us whether – when he made the statement on 22 November – he was speaking on Mr. Ryan’s behalf, or as premier of the Cayman Islands,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
“This is a critically important issue, because the outstanding $6 million is, in fact, deferred duties with respect to The Ritz-Carlton property owed to government by Michael Ryan and/or one or other of his companies,” Mr. McLaughlin continued.
Mr. Ryan has said that he does not personally owe any of the deferred duty. The companies allegedly responsible for the payment of the $6 million were in receivership after new owners RC Cayman Holdings Ltd. called in a loan Mr. Ryan owed on the property earlier this year.
The parent company of RC Cayman, Five Mile Holdings Inc., has said they weren’t sure which of the receivership companies formerly owned by Mr. Ryan would have owed the $6 million deferred duty.
Mr. Bush responded in a statement released by his press secretary, Charles Glidden, on Tuesday.
“Premier McKeeva Bush asked Michael Ryan to provide him with information regarding The Ritz-Carlton valuations for the statement, which was made about the new owners of The Ritz-Carlton and the $6 million in outstanding deferred duty,” the statement read. “This information was sent by Mr. Ryan in a Word document via e-mail. The statement was then crafted using this same Word document with the premier dictating the statement to his senior political assistant.”
Premier Bush has said that he supports The Ritz-Carlton property and that the government is prepared to be partners in tourism with the new owners, but that government will pursue the collection of revenue owed.
“If Mr. McLaughlin truly cared about the welfare of the country he would have contacted me directly, rather than playing politics as he always does to the detriment of the populace and publicly accusing me of not doing my duty,” Mr. Bush said. “I did my duty, as explained in my statement. This matter is being dealt with by government’s valuation office and not the Office of the Premier.”
Mr. McLaughlin called on Mr. Bush to explain “his relationship” with Mr. Ryan.
“Further, he must explain why he has compounded the situation by squandering the opportunity afforded by the recent sale of The Ritz-Carlton to recover the outstanding $6 million,” Mr. McLaughlin said.