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Mystic Mountain lease quarrel settled as sale back in court

The ability of receiver Wilfred Baghaloo to advance the sale of assets of bankrupt Mystic Mountain Limited, MML, operators of the Mystic Mountain attraction, will turn on the outcome of the hearing of an injunction application in the commercial division of the Supreme Court on Friday this week.

This comes amid disclosure to the Financial Gleaner by Baghaloo that another matter listed for trial on Thursday, concerning the leasehold arrangement with landowner Jamaica Bauxite Mining Limited, JBM, for the Ocho Rios property that houses the attraction, has been settled.

JBM is a government-owned statutory body that manages what is said to be some 4,000 acres of state land in St Ann. It also monitors the government’s 51 per cent interest in Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners II, a joint-venture bauxite-mining operation based in Discovery Bay, St Ann, with partner Discovery Bauxite, the Jamaican subsidiary of Atlantic Alumina in the United States.

Following the granting of a temporary injunction on September 14, barring the receiver from proceeding with the planned sale of the assets to a selected preferred bidder, who has not been named, the court will on Friday hear arguments for the continuation of the injunction from lawyers representing Karibukai, the parent company of MML. Karibukai, an investment vehicle, which is in turn majority-owned by Rainforest Adventures Holdings Limited, RFA, is being represented by law firm Ramsey and Partners. Attorneys from law firm Dunncox, representing MML creditor Sky-High Holdings Limited, will respond to Karibukai’s arguments and seek to convince judge Carole Barnaby to dismiss the application and allow the sale to proceed.

In February, Sky-High Holdings, whose directors are hotelier Adam Stewart and Ian Haynes, were successful in getting the court to declare MML bankrupt. They then appointed Baghaloo of accounting and tax advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers as receiver to dispose of the assets and settle the debt.

The parties have declined to comment on the ongoing court matter.

Meanwhile, Baghaloo said on Tuesday that the leasehold issue has been settled.

“There was a claim by JBM several months back and an objection brought by us. I believe that matter, in substance, is now settled, subject to an assignment at the appropriate time,” Baghaloo said by email, in response to queries by the Financial Gleaner, suggesting that the court-related formalities would still need to be done.

Information reaching the Financial Gleaner is that the receiver had initiated the court action over the JBM’s claim for outstanding lease payments that predate the receivership. Baghaloo said this week that there has been no attempt by the landowner to revoke or otherwise end the lease.

“The lease remains in place. If and when there is a sale of the assets, per the debenture agreement, then the lease will be assigned to the new owner/operator, as is customary in these situations,” the receiver said.

Mystic Mountain has been beset by legal wranglings for the past two years, including an early successful bid by RFA to restructure the MML board, replacing several Jamaica-based directors and minority shareholders with directors selected by RFA. The bankruptcy proceedings also involved several legal challenges and counterclaims.

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