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Sawgrass consortium get time to revamp debt

PROPERTY developer Paddy Kelly and financier Niall McFadden's consortia of Irish investors have been granted more time to finalise a plan to restructure the $198m (€138m) debts at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Florida.

A court in Jacksonville has agreed to defer the June 7 deadline for filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy re-organisation plan until September 1.

US bankruptcy judge Paul Glenn last week agreed to allow the RQB Development and RQB Resort companies another three months to resolve the ongoing dispute between them and the resort's major lender, Goldman Sachs Mortgage Company.

The bankers had previously sought permission to seize the 65-acre resort -- the venue for Tiger Wood's infamous apology last year.

Earlier this month, the judge appointed Laurel Isicoff, a judge from the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, as a mediator to work with RQB and Goldman Sachs on a restructuring deal.

Stephen Busey, a lawyer for the Irish owners, told the court RQB was hoping the mediation would result in a re-organisation plan by September that would allow them to continue to operate the resort.

Both RQB and Goldman Sachs have agreed the value of the Sawgrass Marriott has dropped since RQB bought it for $220m (€154m) in 2006, but a dispute over the current value of the resort has extended the bankruptcy process. After a hearing in December and a second hearing in February, Judge Glenn ruled that the property was now worth $132m (€92m).

The Sawgrass Marriott resort includes a 348-room hotel with three restaurants, golf villas and a beach club.

Irish Independent