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Provident Fund controls stalled Momi Bay project

By Margaret Wise SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 9, 2010) - The Fiji National Provident Fund will travel to China to seek business opportunities for its Momi Bay project.

Chief executive Aisake Taito said the Shanghai Expo would be used to exhibit the hotel development near Nadi in the hope of drawing a buyer.

He said while there had been expressions of interest in the property, the Fund would only deal with investors who "bring their own money."

"If they want to raise funds locally then its something we would rather they do on their own. As long as it does not involve FNPF money," he said.

"We have had offers from consortiums and interested investors where the concept was different but the goal is the same as those we have dealt with in the past, they lead to involving the Fund.

"Momi will be actively marketed through the appropriate channels over the next few weeks once we have finalized the foreclosure process and completed the updated information memorandum. This will include the China Expo. "We would like to use the business opportunities provided by Shanghai and market it there.

"Relevant internal resources are being committed given the significant investment made in Momi."

The Shanghai Expo is a grand international gathering where about 200 countries are participating. International organizations are also taking part in the exhibition and it is expected that well over 70 million visitors will grace the event.

The FNPF took possession of the Momi Bay property last year and recently it announced a loss of FJ$181 million [US$88 million] due to the write-down of the Momi and Natadola Bay Resort projects. In 2008 a total of FJ$36.8 million [US$17.9 million] of members’ funds were written off for the Momi project while the fund’s 2009 annual report stated an additional FJ$18.21 million [US$8.8 million] write-down was made as part of a loan from the FNPF.

Mr Taito said the Fund had no intention of being involved in developing the property in the immediate term and would relook at its options at the end of the year.

"We have until the end of the year then we will look at it again, we have until the middle of next year. Right now we putting together documents. Some investors have asked we give them time while they negotiate with their financiers. The bottom line is we want the potential buyer to come in with their own money," he said.

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