In On the Market by Clyde MooneyLeave a Comment

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Singo’s Riversdale Pub Fund has signalled an end to its Sydney portfolio with the listing of the iconic Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain.

The Fund was founded in 2010 by John Singleton, Mark Carnegie and Geoff Dixon, and at one stage counted ten hotels in its stable.

Around two years’ ago the high-flying investors began moving to capitalise on the value of the assets, divesting Newtown’s Marlborough Hotel to Bruce Solomon for $33 million, Glebe’s Toxteth to Mitchell Waugh for $21 million, and Marrickville’s Vic on the Park to Justin Hemmes for circa $22 million.

Then quashing rumours of a complete sell-down, Riversdale emerged in mid-2018 as the new owner of the Lambton Park Hotel in Newcastle.

Eyeing further opportunities, the group is now freeing capital from its last Sydney pub.

“The sale of the Unity Hall will conclude the original fund’s Sydney exposure,” says Riversdale spokeperson Matthew Beach.

“However, we are firm believers in the asset class and as such have made a recent hotel acquisition in Newcastle, as well as operating under management agreements on behalf of hotel owners in Qld.”

Built 1919, the Unity Hall Hotel (UHH) stands proudly on the busy Balmain corner of Darling and Beattie Streets, central to the peninsula’s commercial and retail activity.

It was famously the birth place for the Australian Labor Party, as recognised in Bob Hawke’s attendance at the Hotel’s reopening in 2012 following a major renovation by Riversdale, after their purchase in 2011.

The balanced business offers a well-patronised public bar, the upstairs Workers Bar, in commemoration of its ALP roots, and gaming room with 22 EGMs. Figures show total weekly revenue around $150k.

Its attributes and potential will likely see a sale price in the low- to mid-20s.

“The revenue potency created by its late-trading licence, clear scale and proximity to the Woolworths shopping centre and adjacent car park can’t be recreated in the area,” suggests HTL Property’s Dan Dragicevich, marketing the property with colleague Andrew Jolliffe.

The end of Riversdale’s once commanding Sydney presence comes as sophisticated investors and property-holders continue to reinvest capital back into the sector. HTL reports an average of one hotel sale per week since the start of FY20, dominated by established operators and upsizing.

“This serves as patently instructive behaviour … when the smart money, the old money, and the paragons of this industry convert accretive positions into deeper investment events, astute stakeholders pay comforted attention,” offers Jolliffe.

The Unity Hall Hotel is being sold via Expressions of Interest, concluding Thursday, 7 November.

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