created a niche as an international financial services centre special-
ising in private wealthmanagement, estate planning and asset pro-
tection. What’s more, its proximity to the United States opens up a
whole range of trade, economic and investment opportunities.
HWL stands poised on the threshold of further business de-
velopment in the Bahamas, having steadily increased its pres-
ence there since the company was first
attracted to its sun-drenched shores
just over a decade ago. It has already
ploughed USD1 billion into a contain-
er port, an airport and real estate, and
there is more to come.
“We’ve invested collectively about
USD1 billion in cash,” says Jon Mar-
koulis, chief executive officer of
Hutchison Development (Bahamas).
“We’re probably the largest cash investor in the country. Our
medium- and long-term plans are to get a decent rate of re-
turn on the money we’ve invested. Once Hutchison gets that
rate of return, we get into another level. There’ll be spin-offs
and a lot of additional economic activity.”
Much of that activity may take place in the city of Freeport
on the country’s second largest island, Grand Bahama. It was
here that a 230-square-mile (595-square-kilometre) duty-free
zone was created courtesy of the 1955 Hawksbill Creek Agree-
ment between the Bahamian government and Grand Bahama
Port Authority (GBPA), an entity that was granted quasi-gov-
ernmental powers to run and govern Freeport.
It was Edward St George, the GBPA’s late co-chairman, who
saw the potential of a container port in Freeport as a logistics/
transshipment/distribution hub for the Americas region. His
vision persuaded Hutchison Port Holdings to develop a facility
in 1996 that now employs 900 people.
Chris Gray, Hutchison Port Holdings (Bahamas) chief ex-
ecutive, and the man responsible for overseeing Freeport
Container Port’s day-to-day operations,
acknowledges that the business-friendly
environment created by the Hawksbill
Creek Agreement “played a part” in en-
couraging the company to come to Free-
port but cites the country’s economic and
political stability as other key factors. “It’s
a stable government, it’s a stable environ-
ment, and it has an attractive fiscal envi-
ronment,” he says.
Mr Markoulis agrees, adding that Hutchison’s real estate di-
vision has established a presence in the Bahamas partly “be-
cause of the opportunity provided by the land bank in Freeport
to develop a lot of upscale real estate.”
Situated some 55 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida, Grand
Bahama Island is in the same time zone as the east coast of the
US and is also adjacent to the world’s major shipping lanes,
creating advantages for both commercial shipping and cruises
lines. Non-US flagged ships cannot move from port to port
– they must call at a foreign port after leaving the US – mak-
ing Bahamian ports such as Freeport and the capital Nassau
ideally placed to capture the lion’s share of Caribbean cruises
from Florida. A multitude of island destinations, each with
Another huge plus
for the Bahamas is that
most beach-front property
in Florida has already
been built on
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