Iris Capital’s Sam Arnaout buys ex-Wallaby Bill Young’s Wisemans Inn Hotel

Sam Arnaout has added another pub to his pub empire. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Sam Arnaout has added another pub to his pub empire. Picture: Justin Lloyd

One of the pub industry’s most active billionaires – Sam Arnaout of Iris Capital – has struck again, picking up the Wisemans Inn Hotel in Sydney from former Wallaby Bill Young.

The pair have been among the most active traders in pubs in recent months as the sector approaches $2bn worth of deals for the year in NSW alone, with the latest trade around the $10m mark.

The sector has been buoyed by both the return of customers to pubs and optimism that consumer spending will hold up in venues even if the economy slows.

Mr Arnaout has been active, buying Casino Canberra after outbidding rival pub group Oscars with a $63m play, and buying pubs as far afield as Alice Springs where he is also overhauling the casino.

Mr Young has also been busy, purchasing Sydney’s Bar Broadway Hotel in Chippendale for $36m and also unloading a Glebe pub, the Friend in Hand Hotel, for about $11m.

The frenzy of activity in the pubs sector comes as even larger pub sales loom and the area looks to defy gloom about interest rates.

The 195-year-old waterfront hotel in Wisemans Ferry was sold via real estate agency HTL.

The large format hotel sits on a 5100sqm land holding and is positioned with gun barrel views of the picturesque Wisemans Ferry waterway.

It had been owned by Young Hotels for nearly 20 years.

Iris Capital has paid a $80m for the Strathfield Hotel in Sydney.

The off-market sale was negotiated by HTL Property’s Andrew Jolliffe and Dan Dragicevich and follows a number of big ticket deals, including Mr Arnaout shelling out about $80m for the Strathfield Hotel in Sydney’s west.

“Recent development plans for considerable private investment in Wisemans Ferry and the surrounding area, including the extraordinary $150m Wisemans Surf Lodge, are illustrative of the capacity for Sydney fringe assets to enjoy significant incremental revenue inflows,” HTL managing director, Andrew Jolliffe, said.

Mr Arnaout’s Iris Capital operation now spans significant residential tower developments, pubs and accommodation hotels, casinos and multiple agricultural investments.

Mr Jolliffe said the sale of the Wisemans Inn Hotel came as the hospitality indexed property market, where 2022 recorded the highest number of sales by both volume and dollar value quantum.

“Consolidated sales will comfortably exceed $2bn nationally this calendar year, and our assessment of the transaction based look through to December is prosperous for all industry stakeholders,” HTL Property national director, Dan Dragicevich, said.


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