Hong Kong Billionaire Buys Out Northpoint Tower


Hong Kong-based investor Francis Choi has acquired full ownership of North Sydney’s Northpoint Tower after buying out the remaining 50 per cent of the building for $300 million.

The billionaire founder of Early Light snapped up the recently-refurbished 100 Miller Street asset from Cromwell Property Group. Choi had acquired the initial half stake from South African real estate giant Redefine Properties in 2018.

Cromwell and Redefine jointly bought the Northpoint asset in 2013 for $287.7 million and spent $130 million refurbishing the 44-storey tower and developing a boutique 187-key Vibe hotel.

The tower reopened in March 2018.

Early Light also owns a 100 per cent interest in the Australian Exchange Centre in Sydney’s CBD, which it acquired for $335 million in 2017; and 1 Castlereagh Street, which Choi bought off Blackstone for $220 million.

Choi made his billions in toy manufacturing, founding the Hong Kong-headquartered Early Light in 1972. Early Light’s diverse portfolio of interests include property, jewelry, automotive service and education.

Cromwell chief investment officer Rob Percy said that the sale, along with the new the execution of a new €225 million three-year syndicated facility, will provide certainty for the group’s $1 billion acquisition pipeline.

▲ Cromwell and partner Redefine spent $130 million refurbishing the 44-storey tower.
▲ Cromwell and partner Redefine spent $130 million refurbishing the 44-storey tower.

We will continue to recycle capital which [w]ill allow us to accelerate the execution of our ‘invest to manage’ strategy,” Percy said.

Cromwell had flagged half a billion of office and retail opportunities in Europe along with another $1 billion of value-add opportunities across its existing portfolio.

Cromwell chief executive Paul Weightman said the facility, along with the proceeds of its $375 million placement, will help the group execute on its “invest to manage” strategy.

“[And] provide us with the increased flexibility required to support the continued growth of our European funds management business,” Weightman said.

The sale is subject to FIRB approval and is expected to settle in mid-September.

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