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Samoa National Provident Fund possible investor

By Taina Kami Enoka APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 19, 2011) - The Samoa National Provident Fund (SNPF) remains tightlipped about reports a Papua New Guinea (PNG) group planning a multi-million-tala resort at Taumeasina is looking for investment from the fund.

CEO Faumuina Esther Poutoa– through her secretary – declined to answer questions on whether the Lamana Development Group had approached SNPF to invest into the project.

Her secretary referred questions to another SNPF official, who only spoke to the Sunday Samoan on the condition of anonymity. He said it’s not unusual for some provident funds in the Pacific to be partners with some "huge investors." Who these "huge investors" are, he did not say.

Asked if Lamana had requested financial assistance from the SNPF, the official said; "It wouldn’t be a surprise if Samoa NPF had been approached for some project or other." He said "it’s not such a bad idea as it presents options - if considered and weighed properly - mainly in the area of investments diversification."

According to the latest Pacific Provident Fund Social Security CEO Forum Report, the Lamana Development Group is in partnership with the National Provident Funds (NPF) of Papua New Guinea (NASFUND PNG), Solomon Islands and Fiji.

The same report says the new luxury four-star hotel, the Honiara Heritage Hotel, was purchased in a partnership with NASFUND of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands NPF and Lamana Developments. In Suva, Fiji, a similar purchase of the Grand Pacific Hotel was in a partnership with NASFUND, Fiji NPF and Lamana Developments.

The report also says that Solomon Island NPF is a shareholder in the Bank of the South Pacific, PNG’s largest bank. Cross investing with each other to capitalise on the growing potential of individual island economies is the latest trend.

In terms of operational enhancement, it says "Samoa NPF is reviewing its Strategic Investment Framework (SIF) with priority given to increasing its portfolio in stock bonds overseas." A Secretariat Office in Suva, Fiji, will soon be established for Provident Fundsfrom around the Pacific – including Samoa.

"One of the priorities of the Secretariat Office is promoting the Forum in the region and making it visible in the gathering of the regional institution where its importance is highly valued given its role as prime movers of economies in the respective countries," the report said. At press time last night, the Lamana Group had not replied to questions sent by the Sunday Samoan.

Earlier this week, Lamana Group Business Manager, John Paul Chapman confirmed that he would be in Samoa at the end of the month to sort out registrations and other legal issues in relation to the proposed Taumeasina hotel. Taumesaina was previously leased from Government by New Zealand developer, Gordon Taylor.

Neither he nor his lawyer, Trevor Stevenson were available for a comment.

Emails enquiring about the lease were sent to Mr Stevenson. He has yet to respond.

Meanwhile, Sunday Samoan confirmed with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment confirmed that Mr. Taylor’s lease was terminated on 1 August 2011.

The official declined to discuss the details.

Lamana’s proposed project on Taumeasina, according to reports, will have a complex of more than 100 rooms, luxury bedroom villa suites and more with water sports, entertainment facilities as well as restaurants and cafes.

Lamana Development is owned by prominent businessman Kostas Constantinou, OBE who has visited Samoa several times after PNG hosted the Miss South Pacific pageant last year. Lamana is known in the region for its project development, design and building construction arm of one of PNG’s most dynamic commercial groups.

The company website says Lamana focuses in the development of luxury apartment units, commercial office buildings, industrial suites, and high quality hotels in Papua New Guinea and around the Pacific.

"In addition to managing a chain of premier hotels and executive apartments, Lamana Development is also involved in manufacturing of affordable quality steel framed housing with international accreditation, and employs more than 580 highly skilled expatriates and national employees."

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