Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 27th 2015 Contents SBG4 COVER STORY
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 27 • 2015
It was once the pommecythere in the
eyes of former CL Financial and Clico
chairman Lawrence Duprey: a huge,
glittering and prestigious development
in his adopted hometown of Fort
Lauderdale comprising two 23-story
towers with 346 hotel rooms and 171 condo-
The hotel---which carried the W brand,
known for its luxury and young hipster
appeal---was opened in April 2009, just three
months after the empire that Duprey built
came tumbling down as a result of the global
financial crisis, its mountain of debt and its
tangled related-party lending arrangements.
South Florida newspaper, the Sun Sentinel,
reported at the time of its opening that the
hotel complex was developed at a cost of
US$430 million, some $2.7 billion.
Some of the cost of development came from
debt, but a significant percentage of the money
to build the hotel and condo complex came
from investors in Clico s US-dollar Core Series
Investment Mutual Fund.
Although built with Clico funds, the property
was developed by the Y group, led by John
Yanopoulos, according to a South Florida Busi-
ness Journal article published on July 18, 2014.
That article states that the property was
purchased in July 2014 by US property devel-
oper, billionaire Stephen Ross, through a com-
pany called RRERF DL Condo Owner, an affil-
iate of Ross Related Real Estate Recovery Fund.
According to the South Florida Business
Journal: "RRERF DL Condo Owner...acquired
the unsold condo-hotel units for US$90 million
from Capri Resorts.
"At the same time, the company assumed
control of Capri Hotel LLC, which controls
the regular hotel units, from Yanopolous com-
pany in a deal without disclosing the amount
Another US publication, trade magazine
Hotel Management, also linked John Yanopou-
los to the sale of the property.
It stated, in a July 22, 2014 article: "Stephen
Ross, who owns New York-based Related Cos
Related Fund Management, an affiliate of
Related, bought the hotel from Capri Resorts
LLC, a company linked to South Florida devel-
opers John Yanopoulos and Reed Dale, for an
undisclosed amount. However, it was revealed
that the hotel s condo units were acquired for
The Sunday BG understands that Clico, on
behalf of the CORE mutual funds, began trying
to dispose of the W Hotel and Resorts property
in June 2012.
On February 13, 2014, Capri Holdings LLC
and Capri Resorts LLC entered into an agree-
ment for sale of the property with a company
called FTL Acquisitions.
This agreement was assigned by FTL Acqui-
sitions to the eventual purchaser, RRERF FL
Hotel LL on June 2, 2014.
Documents seen by the Sunday BG indicate
that a company WFTL Acquisitions was incor-
porated in Florida on November 15, 2013. Dale
Reed was its authorised representative.
On April 10, 2014, WFTL Acquisitions
changed its name to FTL Acquisitions and
Reed was its authorised representative.
And on July 30, 2015, the principal place of
business of FTL Acquisitions is 1221 Brickell
Avenue, Suite 660 in Fort Lauderdale. Accord-
ing to a reinstatement document filed with
the Florida Secretary of State, two of its autho-
rised persons are Reed Dale and John Yanopou-
los.The fact that John Yanopoulos and Reed
Dale would be involved in the sale of the prop-
erty is in line with the description in the July
2014 publication of Hotel Management, which
reported that the sale was made by Capri
Resorts LLC, a company linked to South Florida
developers Yanopoulos and Dale.
But if Yanopoulos is related to Capri Resorts
and also to FTL Acquisitions, is there a conflict
of interest in the February 2014 sale agreement
for the property from Capri to FTL Acquisi-
Asked to address the conflict of interest
issue, a well-placed source said: "There was
an agreement for sale with FTL but the sale
was never concluded. Therefore there was no
acquisition by FTL or transfer of any share-
holding to FTL.
"Secondly, Clico did not own any shares in
Capri Hotel or Capri Resorts. The shares in
the Capri entities were owned by Floridian
BVI, a company owned by the Core Series
Investment Mutual Fund.
"When after several extensions of time, FTL
could not close, they assigned the agreement
to RRERF. Clico was aware that Mr. Yanopoulos
had a small interest in FTL.
"Mr Yanopoulos and his company the Y
Group were engaged as asset managers of
Capri. Neither Mr Yanopoulos nor the Y Group
had any ownership interest in the Capri entities
nor was Mr Yanopoulos allowed to participate
in the sale negotiations on behalf of Capri.
"An independent real estate brokerage firm
was hired by Clico to conduct negotiations
on behalf of Clico/Capri. (Their name escapes
me at the moment)."
How does the statement by the well-placed
source that Yanopoulos did not have an own-
ership interest in the Capri entities square
with the two South Florida publications linking
him to the sale of the property?
The well-placed source said: "Yanopoulos
has always projected himself as the owner.
Had any of the media done any background
checks, they would have realised that he was
"His company was hired by Duprey as the
developer. Remember the group DYL (Duprey,
Yanapoulos and Leid) was the developer for
all the Florida projects."
Real estate broker Investco Realty LLC filed
suit in Florida state court claiming it is owed
a commission of more than $4 million for the
bulk of the sale of the Fort Lauderdale W Res-
idences and Hotel.
The issue of who is the independent real
estate brokerage firm hired by Clico is relevant
because on July 8, 2014, a real estate broker
named Investco Realty LLC filed a lawsuit
against Capri Hotels LLC, Capri Resorts LLC,
Y Group LLC and CBRE Inc.
Investco claimed that it was owed US$4.6
million in commissions for the sale of the
Clico claims that John Yanopoulos entered
into a written commission agreement with
Investco that the insurance company did not
As a result of the lawsuit, the eventual pur-
chaser of the property, RRERF, requested that
the Capri entities place US$4.6 million in
escrow, pending the outcome of the Investco
According to Clico, the Y Group agreed to
contribute US$800,000 and the remaining
$3.8M was satisfied by US$2,338,444 by Capri
Holdings LLC and US$1,461,556 by Capri
In a September 30, 2014 statement pub-
lished as a full-page advertisement in the
Guardian, the Clico board said that it took
the decision to engage real estate brokerage
firm CBRE to sell the W Hotel property in
The Clico statement---which was issued to
clarify a story in the Sunday express of Sep-
tember 28, 2014---said the brokerage firm sold
the property for a price of US$234 million.
That price, according to the Clico board
one year ago, "was even better than their orig-
inal valuation and clearly better than the then
most recent independent valuation that had
The board also disclosed that approval for
the negotiations with CBRE, potential pur-
chasers and attorneys, and for the transaction,
was received from the Central Bank."
While eventually the property was sold for
US$234 million, some US$175 million was
owed to the lenders on an outstanding mort-
With legal and brokerage fees, it is unclear
how much of the consideration from the sale
would have flowed to Clico, which is 49 per
cent owned by the Government and 51 per
cent owned by the shareholders of CL Finan-
What did Clico earn
from W Hotel sale?
An artist's rendition of the W Hotel and
Resorts complex in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida from www.hospitalitynet.org.
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