Blackstone eyes Brookfield’s $574m Australian hotel sale


New York-based

Blackstone has been tipped to secure a hotel portfolio valued at over $574 million, from its private equity rival, Brookfield Asset Management Fund, as both aim to grow in the Australian market.

Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Fund is selling five ex-Thakral hotels and associated properties valued at over $574 million, as it plans for the $1 billion-plus Wynyard redevelopment in central Sydney.

The portfolio comprises more than 1,650 rooms, and is expected to bring new offshore entrants into the market.

The properties for sale include the Sofitel Brisbane Central, the Hilton on the Park in Melbourne, the Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach near Sydney airport, the Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach (including the adjoining Oasis shopping centre) and Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, south of Sydney.

The prized Sofitel Brisbane is set to be an attractive investment, due to the tightness of the hotel market in Brisbane and because it offers the opportunities to build another tower or hotel on the adjoining property.

Brookfield secured the $250 million Wynyard site as part of its $410 million takeover of Thakral last year. It is believed its redevelopment will turn heads and feature a dynamic office skyscraper designed in line with other global Brookfield projects.

Blackstone is understood to be in the early stages of deciding whether to buy the properties, as it also moves to purchase the final portion of offices being sold by General Electric, believed to be worth about $400 million.

Blackstone is also close to buying the $400 million Greensborough Plaza in Melbourne.

Blackstone manages about $US210 billion ($222 billion) of assets globally, including $1.5 billion worth of Australian real estate.  Last year, the private equity giant embarked on an $806 million takeover of locally listed Valad Property Group, and is believed to be investigating a takeover of the listed developer and investor Australand in a deal that could have been worth more than $3 billion.

Others that could show interest in Brookfield's hotels include sovereign wealth funds such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and US Host Hotels group. Currently, Accor manages four of the hotels and might be an interested party. While it believed its partner, Singapore-based Ascendas, is unlikely to show buyer interest due to its already substantial Australian investments.

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