IRIS GROUP PICK UP THE COLOMBIAN

In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Sam Arnaout’s Iris Capital has bought former Westpac Bank now Oxford Street landmark The Colombian Hotel for an undisclosed sum.

The three-level building on the prominent corner of Oxford and Crown Streets in Darlinghurst is an institution of the Oxford Street scene, and former Top-100 gaming venue, with 30 EGMs including 15 valuable permits.

The building was converted from being a bank into a hotel by the McHugh family, who have operated as The Colombian for over a decade, developing it into a thriving business. The sale marks their exist from the pub game.

The AFR reported purchase by Iris Capital for “in excess of $15 million”.

PubTIC understands multiple offers were tendered for the city freehold, which holds close to that value in structure, licence and gaming assets alone, before considering the ongoing business and multiples.

It was marketed by Ray White Asia-pacific director Andrew Jolliffe, and Manenti Quinlan’s Gerry Quinlan, who while refusing to discuss the sales figure or buyer, described the campaign as “inundated” with enquiries, and the price achieved “no surprise”.

“In a low interest rate cycle, the opportunity to invest in hard-yielding A-grade property assets complete with upside triggers available to improve already impressive cash flow themes, is seldom available,” said Jolliffe.

“The investment thesis for this opportunity was compelling, with scale, position, opportunity and profitability all central components. And like other valuable property assets we have sold into this market and which also enjoy explosive revenue centres, astute buyers on our database are always going to jostle aggressively for position.”

Oxford Street has seen an explosion of sales and value-add, as the Waughs consolidate the Public House Management Group (PHMG) portfolio with Paddington icons, and industry-leading operators such as Merivale and Solotel reinvigorate Oxford Street legends.

PHMG purchased its Paddington hat-trick through Jolliffe, who was recently named Ray White Commercial’s top performer internationally for the second year running.

Iris operates over a dozen venues, and has executed or planned a number of large redevelopments, including at the Hunters Hills and Clovelly Hotels, and mooted transformation of the Mercure Complex in Kings Cross, which the Group offloaded to a developer last year for $170 million.

Almost simultaneously, Iris bought the legendary The Bourbon, across the road, and later the backpacker’s hostel and then Empire Hotel’s next door to it. Plans have not yet been revealed for the triple site.

PubTIC contacted Sam Arnaout for comment on the Colombian, but did not receive reply in time for this publication.

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