Big wheel developer is on brink of bankruptcy

Las Vegas firm Voyager Entertainment Holdings owes millions of dollars

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By  Sean Cronin Published  April 23, 2005

A US firm planning to develop the world’s largest observation wheel in Dubai is on the brink of bankruptcy. The holding group of Voyager Entertainment International, which unveiled plans to build a US $150 million, 182 m-tall wheel in Dubai earlier this week, has warned financial watchdogs it could become insolvent after amassing millions of dollars worth of debt. In its quarterly submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, filed on November 23rd 2004, Voyager Entertainment Holdings (of which Voyager Entertainment International is a wholly-owned subsidiary), stated: “Over the next twelve months, we believe that existing capital and anticipated funds from operations will not be sufficient to sustain operations and planned development. “In the event we are unsuccessful in generating equity capital, then the company will be unable to continue with product development and/or marketing. The lack of equity capital or other financing may in turn cause the company to become insolvent, and may cause the company to seek protection under the federal bankruptcy laws.” In the same document, Voyager Entertainment Holdings also states: “We have yet to establish any history of profitable operations.” In its latest filing to the Commission, lodged this week, Voyager Entertainment International announced it had signed a joint venture agreement with Allied Investment House (AIH), and had been working with the Abu Dhabi-based Bin Salem Group, a general trading company. An employee from Bin Salem Group confirmed that the group was aware of the Big Wheel project, but offered no further comment. A press release issued by the US firm at the same time as the filing, describes AIH as an investment banking group operating out of the UAE, but with offices in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Toronto and Hong Kong. John Heine, a spokesperson for the Washington-based Securities and Exchange Commission, said that the organisation had no record of the company on its files. Neither had financial regulators in Hong Kong heard of AIH, which Voyager Entertainment International claims will provide all of the financing for the Dubai project. Construction Week traced the company to a serviced office suite in Dubai’s Fairmont Hotel building, but nobody at the firm was available to talk. Voyager Entertainment International has been linked to other Big Wheel projects in cities as far apart as Dallas and Shanghai — but none have so far made it off the drawing board. The firm’s latest failed project was in Las Vegas, where it had planned to build yet another “World’s Tallest Observation Wheel.” The company had been in talks with Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, but according to its quarterly filing, the pair “mutually agreed to discontinue negotiations” on 30th April 2004. Richard Hannigan, president and chief executive officer of Voyager Entertainment Holdings was in Dubai this week, according to a spokesperson at the firm’s US headquarters. Hannigan was unavailable for comment.

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