Camino angles for bigger slice of Pitt Street precinct

Stockland is selling its half-stake in the complex at 135 King St, Sydney.

Sydney businessman Victor Comino is angling to boost his holdings on the city’s glittering Pitt Street mall strip and is in the frame to buy a half-interest in the $700 million 135 King St and Glasshouse complex in the heart of Sydney.

The property trader is looking to add the high-profile property to his existing holdings that include the adjacent Pitt Street mall building that housed the Soul Pattinson pharmacy for almost 150 years.

Comino last year bought that building at 160 Pitt St on a crisp yield of less than 4%, and has reportedly struck a lucrative deal with the Sephora cosmetics brand which is shifting from Westfield Sydney to occupy space formerly occupied by the chemist.

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Buying a stake in the Glasshouse would give Comino an expanded foothold in Australia’s best retail strip, which counts Swedish giant H&M and Platypus Shoes as tenants.

For Comino, a prominent private Sydney landlord, sealing the latest play would add to his $400 million holdings that are benefiting from the overhaul of the city’s mid-town precinct.

That has included a new tower by Macquarie Group and Dexus taking full control of the MLC Centre, where it will soon unveil a new retail and theatre precinct.

In 2015, Comino also picked up the former Darrell Lea building, a historic site on one of George St’s most prominent retail corners, for more than $25 million. He also owns the opposite flagship Apple store and the Louis Vuitton store.

Stockland’s offer of the stake in the building surprised some observers, but it could now pour the proceeds into its development pipeline, with a move to take full control of the Piccadilly Centre on the cards.

Comino declined to comment and a Stockland spokeswoman says the group does not comment on speculation “but continue to assess our portfolio for divestment and capital partnering opportunities”.

The move would see Stockland exit the landmark office and retail asset in which it has held an interest since 2003. It recently teamed with Investa to overhaul the building.

Stockland had been seeking buyers via Graeme Russell, Ben Schubert and Paul Roberts of Knight Frank. They did not return calls for comment.

However, the future of the complex and Comino’s involvement could depend on the Investa Commercial Property Fund, which has a pre-emptive right over Stockland’s half-interest, and is yet to indicate its plans.

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.