26/06/2015 - 15:29

Todd Bennett leads marina deal

26/06/2015 - 15:29

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Two of Perth’s prominent business families have shed light on their future plans, after the Bennett family struck a deal to buy a marina operation in Fremantle from the Kailis family.

Todd Bennett leads marina deal
Blue HQ Marinas director Richard Williams (left) with AMB Capital Partners executive director Todd Bennett and MG Kailis director Alex Kailis. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Two of Perth’s prominent business families have shed light on their future plans, after the Bennett family struck a deal to buy a marina operation in Fremantle from the Kailis family.

Todd Bennett, the son of iron ore heiress Angela Bennett, announced today the purchase of Fremantle Boat Lifters from MG Kailis Group.

The purchase will support the expansion of Blue HQ Marinas, which was founded by the Bennett family in 2013.

Mr Bennett said the purchase was a significant investment and one he thought the family could grow.

Blue HQ is part of a diversified set of investments managed by AMB Capital Partners, the investment arm of family company AMB Holdings.

“For our family and for our diversification, it’s a significant investment and we see more opportunities (in this sector),” Mr Bennett said.

“We’ve always been in boating, so we understand boats and marinas, and we like real estate, generally real estate on water.”

The Bennett family is considered one of the wealthiest in Australia.

Its wealth derives from an iron ore royalties deal struck in the 1960s by Mr Bennett’s grandfather, Peter Wright, who was the business partner of Lang Hancock.

Mr Bennett provided a rare insight into the family’s investment strategy today.

“We’ve been focused on property for a long time,” he said, but was now seeking to diversify.

“We have a long-term focus as a family but we’re certainly looking out to invest and find opportunities where we think we can add value.

“We’re about providing growth capital, bringing our skill set and partnering with people.”

He said Blue HQ, which is run by former Austal and Oceanfast executive Richard Williams, was a good example of the family’s liking for long-term partnerships.

Mr Bennett said the family would look widely for future investments.

“I think infrastructure, property, energy, oil and gas. I think resources is challenging at the moment, but we will continue to look at opportunities outside of iron ore.”

Mr Bennett said AMB Capital had a core team of up to eight people based in Sydney that looked at investments and helped the family diversify its interests.

The Bennetts’ plans in the energy sector were signalled earlier this year when the family acquired a 20 per cent stake in newly established independent oil and gas producer, Quadrant Energy.

That investment is held through AMB Holdings, which is run by recently recruited executive chairman Michael Ashforth.

MG Kailis director Alex Kailis said his family would focus on the commercial side of its ship repair and maintenance business, leaving Blue HQ to focus on the recreational boating market.

He said MG Kailis would be a major customer of Blue HQ, through its use of the boat lifting facilities.

When MG Kailis bought the business, it was entirely commercial, but had been affected by shrinkage in the size of the state’s fishing fleet.

“As that commercial work dropped away, we backfilled that with recreational boat-stacking, but we see ourselves as a business-to-business ship repair company,” Mr Kailis said.

“Over that period, we’ve also got far more involved working with larger vessels, particularly in the oil and gas area.”

He said fishing remained the family’s core business, and it also retained the jewellery business.

Blue HQ Marinas director Richard Williams said the business would offer storage and launching facilities for up to 400 boats when it completed an upgrade of its two sites.

This will comprise dry storage for 280 boats plus nine private marina pens at Blue HQ’s existing boat park facility, which is currently being expanded and upgraded.

The Fremantle Boat Lifters site, located further up Mews Rd, will have storage for a further 100 boats.

“The Boat Lifters location is second to none and is a perfect complement to our upgraded Boat Park facility - the former Fremantle Boat Park,” Mr Williams said.

“The combination of the two sites gives Blue HQ the ability to offer efficient indoor and outdoor boat stacking, expanded marine maintenance and hard-stand services with a vast and unrivalled waterfront access.”

“We are seeing an increasing demand for these types of services, and we plan to continue to enhance our Fremantle service offering to ensure our customers enjoy the best possible facilities and boating experience.”

The Boat Park facility is in the final stages of an extensive redevelopment to upgrade customer facilities and service levels.

This includes new undercover stacks and an entirely new floating jetty harbour space.

 

 

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