De Niro, Packer sign on for Barbuda project

Actor Robert De Niro. (File photo)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Government announced it has penned an agreement with Hollywood actor Robert De Niro and Australian billionaire James Packer for a major project at the defunct 200-acre K Club resort on Barbuda.

Italian designer Mariuccia Mandelli has a 99-year lease on the property, which has been closed for the past 10 years. She has resisted local pressure to expedite any sale of K Club over the past decade and the government has previously opted not to compulsory acquire it. It’s not clear if Mandelli, who announced plans to sell in 2010, has now agreed to a deal for the sale.

The announcement from government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, on state television yesterday, comes weeks after Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced a US $250 million high-end project for Barbuda.

“In Barbuda, we have a great scheme worked out with the son of Kerry Packer, who is himself a billionaire and actor Robert De Niro and they are going to take the K Club and breathe new life into it,” Hurst said.

He said the deal would need the approval of the Barbuda people first.

Seventy-one -year old De Niro, whose net worth is reportedly above US $150 million, has business interests outside of the film industry, including hotels and restaurants.

Forty-seven-year old Packer, who is worth US $5.3 billion according to Forbes, inherited a media empire from his father Kerry Packer and has made much of his fortune in casinos.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)