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(CNS 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. RC Cayman, the successful bidder in today's local public auction met the reserve price of US$177.5 million for the property, which was reduced from an earlier price of $250 million that equated to the sum of the outstanding loan and interest. 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 this afternoon the new owners said they were committed to maintaining and enhancing the status of the Resort as a world‐class destination. Meanwhile, the former owner Michael Ryan and RC Cayman are in Grand Court at the start of what is expected to be a protracted legal battle.
Follwing the successful bid this morning, Rick Finlay of Conyers Dill & Pearman, RC Cayman Holdings' Cayman representative explained, "With this sale, only the underlying ownership of the property changes; the resort will continue to be operated as before, and by the same management structure." He described this as a "very satisfactory outcome, given the long-standing uncertainty surrounding the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Resort."
The loan that Ryan took out to partly finance the development of the Ritz Carlton has been sold to various firms and most recently ended up in the hands of RC Cayman, which moved to seize ownership of the resort earlier this year after Ryan’s companies defaulted. The firm has since accused Ryan of syphoning money from the various companies and mismanaging them. Ryan has denied any wrongdoing and has counter sued.
The complex courtroom drama of suits and counter suits, in which Ryan and his remaining web of companies are pitted against RC Cayman, opened on Monday and is expected to continue through next week. The dozen lawyers now embroiled in the legal battle before Justice Peter Cresswell are arguing over who owes what to whom regarding the web of firms that Ryan set up to first develop the Ritz Carlton hotel and later own and manage the resort via the Ritz brand.
Against that backdrop, the bidding on the Ritz Carlton was held this morning (Wednesday) at the auction, which was managed by American based specialist Eastdil Secured Ltd.
RC Cayman Holdings LLC is an affiliate of Five Mile Capital Partners LLC of Stamford, Connecticut. Five Mile is an experienced private equity investor in the hotel and resort property sector.
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