Invest in Paradise

Middle Eastern Investors join the race to become Global Citizens by investing in Antigua and Barbuda.

The sandy Caribbean shores of Antigua and Barbuda have been awash with foreign direct investment (FDI) since the twin-island nation joined the race to attract the world’s wealthiest in exchange for citizenship.

It initially took its lead from its Caribbean neighbours St Kitts and Nevis, which has the oldest running citizenship by investment programme in the world and was one of the most successful programmes until recently, when it was stripped of its visa-free status to some countries after numerous warnings and allegations of misuse of the Citizenship Investment Program. Antigua and Barbuda has managed to attract substantial investors in the past 12 months alone, including Hollywood actor Robert De Niro, who just launched an exclusive $240 million resort on the secluded beaches of Barbuda and Chinese investment group Yida, which is investing $1 billion in a 1,600-acre mega-resort development on the island.

These deals come hot on the heels of the announcement of an investment in excess of $120 million by a UAE investor who is building a luxury five-star hotel with Al Caribi developers. The new Callaloo Cay resort in Morris Bay will occupy 36 acres of prime beachfront lands, five acres of which will be developed into a public National Park facility.

Both projects are part of the government’s commitment to bring investments that will provide jobs, help reduce debt and support the economy through economic citizenship programmes.

Meanwhile the Arton Index— a benchmark for the global citizenship industry — has placed Antigua in first place among its Caribbean counterparts offering immigrant investment programmes for its speed, cost, quality of life, simplicity and mobility.

Despite Antigua’s speedy road to success, it is being “cautiously optimistic” about its future and is determined to learn from the mistakes of St Kitts and Nevis, while taking “every step possible to protect its reputation as an industry leader in citizenship by investment programmes,” according to Casroy James, Antigua’s ambassador to the UAE.

If you are in the market for a second citizenship, the timing couldn’t be better

One example of its “cautious optimism” is a clause the government has inserted into investors’ contracts, stating they must perform within a specified period or else the land will automatically revert back to the government.

“Every applicant [investor] who applies for citizenship, especially those from risk countries, goes through a cautious selection process which is done via our certified intermediaries and all proposed projects must be fully reviewed and approved by the citizenship by investment unit,” explains James.

Speaking about the new Callaloo Cay hotel project, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said it was a “blueprint project of sorts” as it is the first public-private partnership under the citizenship by investment scheme, which sees the government invest 20 per cent. It is joined by the Indian-born, UK-based tech entrepreneur Nitin Singhal and global investment firm Arton Capital through its subsidiary Arton Estates together with the main UAE-based investor.

Armand Arton, president and chief executive of Arton Capital group of companies, who was recently appointed as special economic envoy for Antigua and Barbuda, is responsible for the private placements offering of Callaloo Cay, which will be launched later this month in Dubai at the IBC Arton Capital Citizenship by Investment Summit.

“The first special preferred redeemable shares offering will be limited to $40 million or 100 investors that will have the option to become part of a great success story and exclusive brand while having the option of a guaranteed buy-back within five years of their investment,” says Arton.

The private placement will be rolled out through a series of road shows in Dubai, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Moscow and Monaco later this year through the affiliated Arton Bank.

And if you are in the market for a second citizenship, the timing couldn’t be better, according to Arton. The Callaloo Cay places are offered just days before the closing deadline of the Quebec investor programme, which is expected to see a decline in numbers since the strict conservative government implemented more stringent requirements on foreign investors.

“The industry is now focused on European and Caribbean products,” says Arton.

Presently Arton Capital is actively advising government agencies in four different jurisdictions on how to create new programmes. Arton believes with “increased demand from Middle Eastern wealthy families, the ongoing Russian crisis and the steady growth of Chinese millionaires, there is still enough demand for countries to join the movement of global citizenship.”