Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kiwis storm Courthouse

It looks like Nick Dalton, business editor at the Cairns Post, popped into the Courthouse Hotel on his way back from lunch and discovered a new publican behind the bar. Some of the detail in this report is a bit vague perhaps reflective of liquid refreshments on a Friday afternoon?

Dalton reports that "Sydney-based Bodium (sic) Operations" is now the new manager. Bodiam is actually wholly owned and controlled by New Zealand's Perpetual investment group with a parent company listed on NZX. Judging from the crowd at previous rugby tests KS had been under the impression that the Courthouse had already been stormed by the Kiwis?

We can confirm for Nick that "the ASX-listed IEF Real Estate Entertainment Group"  does indeed own the property, which he was not able to confirm himself, albeit within a restructured entity. IEF was previously associated with ING who have exited. The restructure combines IEF and Bodiam to create a stapled security listed on ASX with the property held with IEF and the business operations within Bodiam.

Bodiam have moved to take control of operations from struggling leasehold tenants who had fallen into arrears which included the Courthouse. Effectively that means both the freehold and leasehold are now held within the same group. Operating as a hotel this heritage listed building has now been through a few receiverships and controversies.  IEF bought the Courthouse back in 2006 with cost to date more than $11 million. Current valuation in the books is down to $5.2 million.

The new publican's reported comments seem positive however the proposed strategy doesn't really seem too different from the past format? There have been previous proposals to return the Courthouse to a public facility such as gallery or museum space. The previous two councils both looked at this but it was rejected because the cost was regarded as prohibitive. 

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