Andrew Forrest flags commercial property push after buying $55m Perth office

The 12-storey building on St Georges Terrace in Perth’s CBD spans more than 9200sq m.
The 12-storey building on St Georges Terrace in Perth’s CBD spans more than 9200sq m.

Billionaire Andrew Forrest’s private Fiveight operation has snapped up a Perth office building for about $55m, flagging a push into commercial property at a time when many listed groups are selling down.

The company is an arm of the Forrest family’s Tattarang investment group and already has a wide-ranging portfolio across agrifood, energy, resources, property, hospitality, sport and entertainment.

Fiveight is one of six business divisions, alongside Harvest Road, SFM Marine, Squadron Energy, Wyloo Metals and Z1Z, and it has been marked out for expansion.

The company put its investment smarts on display with the counter-cyclical acquisition of the Perth office block at a time when many others were steering clear.

But Fiveight is part of a broader property development and investment business that has the skills to reposition offices for the tough times brought about by the coronavirus crisis.

The Perth CBD office tower at 190 St Georges Terrace was sold by a Credit Suisse-managed fund via CBRE and JLL.

The 12-storey building spans more than 9200sq m and will be repositioned.

Fiveight chief executive John Meredith, who has worked for property groups such as Property Bank Australia, Lendlease, Mirvac and Morgan Stanley, said the company would undertake a refurbishment of the building.

He cited the “attractive opportunity” investing in the office block and repositioning it as a boutique building on the premiere Perth city boulevard.

The building was originally developed in 1982 by Lord Alistair McAlpine and has undergone several rounds of renovations since that time.

Mr Meredith said COVID-19 had thrown up new challenges in the commercial office sector but a physical workplace was irreplaceable when it came to “culture, communication and innovation”.

“COVID-19 has reinforced the need for building owners to think proactively of the needs of tenants and their employees when it comes to workplace design,” he said.

Tattarang chief investment officer John Hartman said Fiveight would play a major part in the group’s investment plans in coming years.

“Property is a big focus and you’ll see us being more and more active in the market both in Western Australia and on the east coast,” Mr Hartman said.

Existing property assets include the Old Swan Brewery, a logistics park and the recently announced Ningaloo Lighthouse project — a proposed $85m redevelopment of the existing Exmouth caravan park.

Fiveight is also among the preferred proponents to deliver the East Perth power station redevelopment, with Kerry Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity.

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