22/08/2006 - 22:00

Cbus chasing a share of the action

22/08/2006 - 22:00

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Executives from Melbourne-based Cbus Property, which is short-listed for the 140 William Street development, made the most of a recent whirlwind trip west by meeting with consortium stakeholders and gauging potential opportunities in the Perth market.

Executives from Melbourne-based Cbus Property, which is short-listed for the 140 William Street development, made the most of a recent whirlwind trip west by meeting with consortium stakeholders and gauging potential opportunities in the Perth market.

The subsidiary of superannuation fund, Cbus, plans to make a long-term commitment to Western Australia, where about 40,000 of its super members, 8.9 per cent of its national membership base, reside.

Cbus chief executive Kevin Fitzpatrick told WA Business News most of its WA superannuation fund members were employed in the property industry, and the company wanted to give something back.

The company is up against fellow Melbourne-based developer Grocon and construction giant Multiplex to develop and purchase the mixed-use retail and office project above the new William Street train station.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the state government was still making assessments on the winning bid, but construction would likely start in January, subject to the completion of the underground station.

The project is seen as a safe bet, considering the government has made a pre-commitment to occupy 22,000 square metres out of the 40,000sq m of office space over two towers.

“In our view, most corporates want to stay in St Georges Terrace, so the only way to make the site viable was to get the government to make a commitment,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“It suits us being a super fund because our members are looking for steady and reliable returns over the long term, so this is a terrific opportunity.”

Since its launch in early 2006, Cbus Property has amassed a portfolio worth $1.3 billion by combining previous property subsidiary, Australian Super Developments, with other direct property investments.

The company also has recently invested in Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney and Adelaide.

Mr Fitzpatrick said Cbus Property was looking for greater balance across asset classes and geographic diversity in its portfolio, and signalled future offloading of smaller hospitality-based assets in favour of bigger acquisitions.

Cbus Property was also researching potential subdivisions and master-planned community developments around Australia.

Mr Fitzpatrick revealed the company had spoken to the WA Turf Club regarding its planned $2 billion redevelopment of Belmont Park into a major residential and recreational precinct.

The club owns the 73-hectare freehold site and has in-principle support from the WA Planning Commission for a mixed-use development including high rise and medium density housing, retail and commercial.

In addition, Cbus Property is looking at pure investment opportunities in WA, including the purchase of several different grades of office buildings, as well as retail operations and industrial parks.

“With the weight of money in the WA market, it’s extremely competitive to buy in, and we’re concerned with some of the current commercial yields,” Mr Fitzpatrick told WA Business News.

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