18 January, 2009

Not Happening

Who is Robert FX Sillerman? He is very big stuff, a media and entertainment billionaire in the USA. For years, he dealt in millions of dollars like you and I deal in tens and hundreds. Through his company, CKX Inc, he was acquiring the majority rights to Graceland, the Elvis Presley Estate, as well as the assets of Simon Fuller’s “American Idol”, part of the Idol franchise which airs in more than 100 countries. In 1990, when Sillerman and his wife celebrated their 25th anniversary, he presented her with US$100 million to launch her charity, the Tomorrow Foundation. Additionally, for what it’s worth, he owns the rights to the name, image and likeness of Muhammad Ali.

Robert FX Sillerman

And so we come to Anguilla, and Sillerman’s flagship Flag Luxury Properties, and its associated Temenos Golf Club. This has been advertised to consist of a 114-room hotel with an 18,000 sq ft spa and fitness centre, 50 oceanfront residences, 18 “estate homes”, 10 villas, 38 spa villas, and a Greg Norman-designed golf course.

Greg Norman at the 2003 groundbreaking ceremony

The hotel was originally projected in 2003 to be coming on stream in 2006.

Local dignitaries at the 2003 groundbreaking

In the event, the golf course and club house were both ready by 2006. But, not any part of the hotel or villas.

Club house and golf course at its 2006 opening

We in Anguilla have been holding our breaths since St Regis dropped out of the picture and was replaced in January 2008 by Baccarat Hotels and Residences. We wondered about those villa purchasers who had invested mainly on the promise that St Regis was to manage the Temenos property. What would they think, and, more importantly, what would they do?

Late last year, even before the markets crashed and the world economies began to be exposed to fears of recession and depression, catastrophe struck. In August, we learned that the entire project was suspended indefinitely. All the hoopla about the resort being branded as a Baccarat Hotel has fallen through. I have my doubts that Baccarat is any longer associated with the closed hotel project. Once the announcement was made of Baccarat’s involvement, a website had immediately gone up. Over last summer, the website went completely inactive. Now the Baccarat hotels website does not even link to or mention anything about Baccarat Anguilla. Nor does the Temenos Anguilla website have any mention of the Baccarat hotel. All references to it have been removed.

Feverish moves during the last half of 2008 to obtain the necessary further financing to complete the project do not appear to have resulted in any real progress. And, now the world economies are sliding into a depression that is estimated by many commentators to be likely to last for at least the next year, perhaps two or three years. Meetings between the principals of Temenos and the government of Anguilla as recently as this month have not produced any news of new funding coming on stream to permit the project to pick up steam again. The construction company, Ashtrom, have departed, and the imported Chinese workers packed and housed 20 to a container are slowly trickling back to Beijing.

Meanwhile, in December 2008, the Hon Victor Banks presented a budget for Anguilla for the year 2009 of EC$339 million. This record amount was intended to meet the growing cost of Anguilla’s public services and capital programme for the coming year. As Mr Banks explained, his budgeted increase in revenue of $4 million over the 2008 figure was mainly expected from stamp duties resulting from alien landholding licences to purchasers of real estate when the Viceroy/Mubadala project opens for operations in 2009. Flag Luxury Properties was conspicuous by its absence from mention in the budget.

So, I wondered, what has really happened to block Flag Luxury Properties out of the Minister of Finance’s Anguilla budget calculations? Where is Mr Sillerman and his billions of US dollars in all of this? I did a Google search for Robert FX Sillerman. Fortunately for us, when you are a public company or a public figure in the United States, most of the information on you is published on the internet. This information is required by law to be public information. Go ahead, you can do it too! This is what is out there:

Credit Suisse was the last lender to the project that I could find. They put in a reported US$180 million in March 2006. Sillerman reportedly came up with additional financing for the project at the same time. The project was originally estimated to cost some US$200 million. So far, a reputed US$500 million has been invested.

Flag Luxury is owned by a company called FX Luxury. Flag Luxury, FX Luxury and FX Real Estate are so intertwined that I have been unable, even after multiple readings of this website, to untangle the relationships. Perhaps you can do better.

From yet another site, we learn who the directors of FX Real Estate are. They are, principally, Robert FX Sillerman as Chairman and CEO, Paul C Kavanos as President, and Barry A Shier as Chief Operating Officer. Sillerman is the founder of SFX Entertainment from which he made most of his money, upto and including its sale to Clear Channel Communications in August 2000. Kavanos is the founder of Flag, and previously developed Ritz-Carltons in the USA. Shier is an old pro in the gambling and hotel industries, having served in various capacities for Mirage Resorts and Golden Nugget of Las Vegas.

More searching of the internet reveals that FX Real Estate is not doing well. In the past year alone, its shares have dropped in value from US$8.00 to 10c.

FX Real Estate

An SEC filing of 5 November 2008 tells us that FX Real Estate appears to have lost its option to acquire the Elvis Presley Estate.

Subsequently, a December 2008 release informs us that FX Real Estate has defaulted on a US$475 million loan from Credit Suisse. As a result, the company appears to be at risk of losing its Las Vegas properties. It seems to me that these business reverses must negatively impact Mr Sillerman's ability to find the further resources needed to revive the Flag project in Anguilla.

Various government press conferences and speeches in the House of Assembly in November and December of last year indicate that some five to six million US dollars are owing to local creditors alone. Chinese workers abandoned by their employer on the island claimed they had not been paid for several months before they were picked up and deported. Word is that they were sent home, at government expense, after some of them began to threaten that they would complain to the nearest Chinese Embassy. The Blanchard-operated Zurra Restaurant is closed. All its signage has been taken down. Ashtrom, the general contractors for the project, have packed up their bags and left the island. The golf course was closed down, though the maintenance crew was kept on with the slimmest of budgets.

All in all, it is not surprising that the Hon Minister of Finance has ceased to factor into his projections for income in 2009 the Flag Luxury Properties hotel development project at Cove Bay. The Flag project is not likely to be completed anytime soon.

The likelihood is that Sillerman & Co have much more important business to attend to than little old Anguilla and its over-ambitious golf course. Unless, cynical and unworthy thought though it is, he was banking on buying out the Credit Suisse debt and his partners' equity on the cheap? Little hope of that. The law suits alone will likely take years to settle.

Now, the word on the street is that the remaining golf course workers have not been paid for weeks, and are very upset and worried about their future. Who can blame them?

So, who is thinking of playing golf now?


  1. What's this about a 114-room hotel. You must have invented that. Hubert said on the radio that there's no hotel there at all -- that it's just villas for rich foreigners.

  2. Gosh Don, Aren't you unpopular enough without picking on Anguilla's Golden Boy? The poor man (cough cough) has enough to deal with without us mentioning that at the end of December he flew in on his private jet with a couple of his friends to play golf. Nothing wrong with that, of course, unless one is thinking that it looks bad to be swanning around the very place that cost Anguillians so much in lost jobs and bad loans. Maybe those businesses that are owed large sums of money could anonymously post here the amount owed the banks.

  3. I don't have any links or sources to prove this but I do recall that when the project was announced there was a hotel component. Whether that was abandoned I do not know but it was originally suppose to be a hotel with villas that were managed by the hotel "St-Regis"

  4. This is from a Temenos press release dated February 2004:

    "Temenos will feature a 97 key St. Regis hotel, a world-class spa, a Greg Norman golf course (the first golf course on Anguilla) and a residential component (homes starting at $2.5 million)."

  5. It was nice that Sillerman left some money on Anguilla before he lost millions. Let hope him good luck.

  6. Ah yes, the plans they were grand...and there were plans for a 120 room hotel/spa.

    August 26, 2004

    Greg Norman Championship Golf Course to be First of its Kind on the Island

    SCOTTSDALE, AZ – Troon Golf,® the leader in upscale golf course management, development and marketing has joined forces with Flag LuxuryTM Properties and St. Regis® Hotels & Resorts to redefine world-class golf in the Caribbean. Temenos Anguilla – a St. Regis Retreat, featuring a Greg Norman championship golf course, will open in late-2006/early-2007 with a world-class hotel, spa, and a limited number of extraordinary estates. Temenos Golf Club, the first championship course on the island, is scheduled to open in 2005.

    Also read http://www.troon-golf.com/courses/temenos_golf_course.php

  7. This is *really* good, Don. Thank you.

    BTW, anybody know what's the story on Quincy's Hotel?

    I heard something on the radio sometime recently about him getting money to finish the thing, but I was half asleep and missed the details, or maybe I just dreamed the whole thing.

    Or maybe I woke up to yet another round of the Greater Fool Theory Of Caribbean Real Estate. It does seem like there's always a greater fool, sooner or later. Speaking as one, myself, of course. :-)

  8. My prediction: sooner or later, as some capital markets improve and we are saddled with unfinished projects, developers will dangle the lure of high-rise hotels and casino gambling. Some will be tempted to take the bait. Let's prepare now to "just say no."

  9. The golf course project is completed and is a thing of beauty.
    The hotel and villa aspect of the project will also be completed perhaps next year.

    It is the WORLD that is in recession. Anguilla did not cause the recession!

    The world economy will bounce back in the next 18 months or so. And the villas and hotel will be worth more than ever.

    That project is solid gold. I have no fear whatsoever that it will be completed. The beach is the most beautiful in the world.

  10. Kudo's for your good research and commentary on Temenos Project.
    Others have attempted to analyze Mr. Sillerman's holdings only to find an incestuous conglomeration of companies, corporations, and businesses typicaly found on Wall Street.
    Whether he has sufficient resources (or desire)to resurrect the project remains to be seen. However, unless something is done soon, completion costs will exceed justifiable investment limits.

    One critical issue is reopening the golf course which has been aggressively and inaccurately promoted as part of the Anguilla Tourist Package. This has caused much embarrassment and lost business.

    According to a recent press report, Mr. Sillerman met with CM to discuss this matter and was told he (Mr.S) is working hard to get it open and end of January was mentioned. Those who observe these things say nothing has been done or is pending and a handful of disgruntled workers is all that stands between a beautiful golf course and a remote area grown up to brush.

    Temenos was once the crown jewel of future development in Angulla.
    Today it sits idle sending an ominous message to investors, business people, and tourists.
    Will it rise from the ashes like The Phoenix or die a natural death like Merrywing?

  11. Why is it that no one seems to be able to say what is going on with the golf course? My wife and I booked a February trip to Anguilla because it offered us the ideal vacation with great beaches, excellent food, no casinos or high rise hotels, and (important for me) a quality golf experience.

    Previously you had to go to Nevis for this type of experience.

    Not only does nothing on the web, except this site (which I stumbled on by accident) say anything about the golf course being possibly closed, even calling our hotel, Cuisinart, and Cap Jaluca, I have only been given evasive answers. Calls to the golf course itself go unaswered.

    I would feel pretty stupid arriving with golf clubs in hand and nowhere to play. This whole experience has made me reconsider our trip. Lucky for Anguilla that Four Seasons Nevis is closed this season. Debating on going to Barbados or Dominican Republic instead.

    I cannot fathom why at least the Anguilla Tourism website does not have updated information on the golf course.

  12. If you desire good golf, by all means go the DR and play "the teeth". If you want beaches, bars, good food and good people, try Anguilla. It never had a golf course before '06, yet that was never an issue. You can practice your bunker shots at fairly deserted Cove Bay. If you can hit a ball out of that sand, you can master any sand shot. It's like practicing in your back yard in a pile of wheat flour. - Scotty

  13. The golf course is closed indefinitely. Our Chief Minister, who claims to have a direct line to both Sillerman and God, announced that he is talking to Sillerman about opening the golf course. He then abandoned discussing the matter in public, leaving all of us, and our visitors, in a state of uncertainty. He continues to give speeches about taking good care of our visitors, but seems to have failed to hear his own message.

    Like all government entities here, the Anguilla Tourist Board is operated for the convenience of its staff. We've grown used to their lies, and read their claims with suspicion. Potential visitors don't realize that half this stuff is lies. Just yesterday I read this announcement on the internet:

    "Anguilla’s Ministry of Tourism has announced the launch of a new executive air service which will operate between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Anguilla. The new service, scheduled to start on February 14, will be provided on the Anguilla Air Express, and operated by Rainbow International Airlines Inc."

    Notice that this is given out as an authoritative statement. This is not from some local hotel. This is not from some private company trying to sell something. This is not from the Dept. of Tourism. This is not from the Anguilla Hotel & Tourism Assn. This is not from the Anguilla Tourist Board. This is from our Ministry of Tourism - the people who make policy decisions about our single-industry economy. And yet it is a pack of lies. Rainbow doesn't have a plane to make this run and doesn't have the money to obtain one. And if you call them to make a reservation on this vaporflight, you learn that they're not taking reservations yet and don't know when they will.

    It is more than embarrassing and I apologize to our visitors on behalf of those who find it easier just to lie to them. I wonder how many irate visitors have shown up in Anguilla recently carrying their golf clubs, and how many other people they'll tell about being defrauded and victimized by our stupid and arrogant government.

    And yes, I'm ashamed to admit it but I voted for them.

  14. Maybe the people who put up deposits for the villas at Flag should sue the Government of Anguilla for fraud. Then maybe the UK would get involved in this mess as they are responsable for the contingent liability. On another note I hear all of Sillermans properties are now up for sale, including his brand new home on Long Bay. IS he going broke or is he selling his assets as he is too embarassed to show his face in Anguilla knowing that everyone is looking at him thinking . . .

  15. This whole mess is not Sillerman's fault. All he has done is lose tens of millions of dollars. Flag blew this project up by continually changing their mind on design issues. The Government is surprisingly weak. They make it nearly impossible to build efficiently with all their arcane rules and then they allow a completed golf course to lay idle. Golf is a major draw for tourism. The course is there...force it to be opened. Buy it if you have to and make it semi private -public. Do anything...but don't just sit there and say nothing. It's as if Bush is running Anguilla.

  16. We will still vacation in Anguilla. Do not care about golf at all. Golf should never be a good reason to go to Anguilla. The most beautiful beaches in the world, friendly locals, and great food are the main reason we have chosen to vacation there. The economy could be alot worse in Anguilla. You to could be stuck with obama like the US. He thinks we can spend our way out of our crisis. Gonna get alot worse here.

  17. We arrived on Anguilla for Thanksgiving vacation with three confirmed golf times only to learn when we drove up to the gate that the course had been closed. We are avid golfers and only came to Anguilla to play at Temenos. Extremely unlikely that we will return.

  18. While the Special Assistant for Tourism has been playing "Access Tsar," tourist websites, including that of the Dept. of Tourism, continue to encourage people to come to Anguilla to play golf. And now we learn that someone, somewhere, has actually been giving hapless visitors "confirmed reservations" at the golf course.

    I just went to the official Tourism website to make sure I'm not being unfair, and here it is:
    ©Temenos Golf Club
    Greg Norman 18-hole Championship Golf Course managed by Troon Golf
    Open to the Public on November 1, 2006
    Temenos Golf Course 264-498-7000
    Anguilla Golf Association-Pitch and Putt 264-497-2470

    Both are closed. I can't believe our Tourist Board can spend - what? - $3 million a year? - to be this incompetent and discourteous to our guests.

  19. "Is everything in Anguilla destined for mediocrity or failure?"
    --David Carty, former Director of Tourism

  20. Don,

    Would love to meet you next time I am on the island. Was just there from Feb 3 to feb 14th. Was there for the "grand" opening and the tee shot of Greg in that wonderful November!. I think that has proven to be the undoing of the island. The Anguillians got greedy simply put... Fairmont? Shoal Bay Resort? Viceroy simply does not make financial sense in any market. So if Anguillians wanted to reduce the island to uber rich cash only buyers that have no need for any return on investment then Kudos....mission accomplished.....Anguilla was not ready to be the next St Barths......now the Government Must take action or face losing the economy of steady real estate sales and service job growth. Unrest is a wicked thing on an island.

    The course in my view as I sneeked a peek OVER the fence by smokeys and walked a few......is already falling apart. It is subtle now....but will intensify......

    Thanks for your posts...you can see mine...I would like to get your views.

  21. American Idol’s Sillerman Owes $21.4 Million on Loan, Bank Says

    here is the latest from Bloomberg May 23, 2009

    May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Robert F.X. Sillerman, chief executive officer of CKX Inc. and owner of the “American Idol” brand, owes a $21.4 million on a loan, Credit Suisse Group AG said in a court filing in New York.

    Credit Suisse’s Cayman Island’s branch filed the request for summary judgment in lieu of a complaint in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Credit Suisse was acting as the agent on behalf of the holders of the loan.

    The bank, Switzerland’s second-largest, alleges that Sillerman has failed to pay the outstanding balance of due under a credit agreement with Flag Luxury Properties LLC, in Anguilla, British West Indies, and that Sillerman has defaulted on a series of payments due since April 2008.

    “Defendant is obligated to pay $21,400,000 to Credit Suisse,” the bank said in court papers filed May 21, adding later, “the demand on the defendant was refused.”

    Subsequent payments that became due also remain unpaid, the bank said in court papers. Sillerman also has failed to make the required principal payments due since June 2008, the bank alleged. The outstanding principal due under the first-lien credit agreement is $137.2 million, Credit Suisse said in court papers.


  22. And it is not just Anguilla:

    The developer of the Emerald Bay Resort in Greate Exuma (Bahamas) is in receivership with the marina and golf course (now overgrown) both closed and a series of finished, partly finished and vacant properties. To add to the misery of both local and purchaser the anchor for the Emerald Bay Resort, the five years old Four Seasons Hotel will close at the end of May, 2009.

    Four Seasons Resort at Emerald Bay Exuma to Close - 500 unemployed


  23. more on Sillerman

    June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Media baron Robert F.X. Sillerman had a great run until he tried to break into real estate --


  24. the golf course is going to be world class they have just employeed a world class superintendent


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.