Hoping to raise up to 13 million euros ($17.9 million) in a first round, Amsterdam-based conglomerate Romar finance B.V. is launching a private investment fund for its Cuban undertakings.
Company officials told Cuba Standard in early November that a prospectus for their “Cuba Financial Fund” was about to be finalized.
Romar’s move comes just weeks after Cuban authorities arrested the principal of another foreign conglomerate in Cuba, London-based Coral Capital Ltd., apparently over allegations of corruption, and shuttered its offices, according to Reuters. Coral had been in the initial stages of raising funds for an ambitious golf real estate project at Bellomonte, east of Havana, and operated a trading business.
Romar has kept a low key during the 15 years it has been active in Cuba, but the family-owned company is now edging into the spotlight. The money raised through the Cuba Financial Fund would initially be used to start the company’s development projects and support the operations of its trading business, WOMY Equipment Supply B.V., which imports new and used vehicles and machinery in Cuba. The company also operates a logistics branch and a finance arm that offers leasing programs. Principal Ronald Buijk said the fund is aiming at high net-worth individuals as investors.
Romar’s development arm, Q Hospitality, is negotiating construction of four hotels, one each in Havana, Viñales, Trinidad and Santa Lucía. Plans also include construction of a 80-mw wind farm in Cuba. However, its most ambitious project is a marina and real estate development at Tarará, just east of Havana.
Romar began planning on Tarará two-and-half years ago. The company expects to expand a 270-yacht marina and renovate hotels at the gated luxury community in East Havana that was mainly built in the 1940s by American Royal S. Webster.
The first phase of the project includes dredging, rebuilding and expanding the marina, and renovating an existing motel, official business weekly Opciones reported last year. Romar’s long-term plans include construction of a pier for mega-yachts, hotel and aparthotel, bungalows, condominiums, restaurant, bars, shops, and an 18-hole golf course.
The architect for the project is Roberto Meyer, owner of MVSA International B.V., a high-profile architecture firm in the Netherlands.
Tarará, which includes 400 homes, a motel, beach, marina, cultural center, cafeteria, hard-currency store, Che Guevara museum and pool, was started by U.S. real estate developers in the 1920s. It acquired its current modernistic look in the 1940s, when most homes in the compound were built. Just after the revolution, Che Guevara cured his asthma here; in the 1970s, the government turned Tarará into a young pioneer camp; in the 1990s, the compound hosted Ukrainian children sickened by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and most recently, it became temporary home for Venezuelan patients of the Operación Milagro eye surgery program.
Lack of resources caused buildings and other infrastructure to decay in the 1990s.
In 2001, state companies Cubanacan and Cubalse were put in charge to renovate the compound, add a hotel and other tourism infrastructure, and re-do the street grid. On April 1 this year, state holding Corporación CIMEX took over Residencial Tarará, after the government dissolved Cubalse S.A.