Perth Westin hotel kickstarts Buckeridge empire selloff

The Westin Perth hotel has been sold for $200m.
The Westin Perth hotel has been sold for $200m.

The carve-up of late construction tycoon Len Buckeridge’s property empire has begun, with a major Asian group swooping on Perth’s newest five-star hotel, The Westin Perth, for about $200 million.

The sale of the five-star hotel at this price would be the largest for a hospitality asset in Western Australia, while Buckeridge’s Aloft Perth hotel, and an office complex, are also under contract for a price of close to $130m.

While the buyers are unconfirmed, Malaysia’s YTL Hospitality REIT, which owns the Sydney Harbour, Brisbane and Melbourne Marriott hotels, has been widely tipped as the potential purchaser of The Westin Perth.

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Completing the property deals could mark the beginning of a ­larger sales program for the Buckeridge holdings, with his overall estate worth an estimated ­$2.5 billion.

Buckeridge’s heirs decided to start selling the BGC empire, founded by the entrepreneur more than half a century ago, by listing two hotels and the office complex in July.

BGC’s operations had been under a cloud since Buckeridge’s death in 2014 and complex litigation involving 22 parties had split what is one of Australia’s wealthiest families. Some family members objected to being left shares in BGC — which was founded by Buckeridge in Perth in the 1960s and is now controlled by his two eldest sons, Sam and Andrew — rather than cash.

The hotels and office complex are being sold through JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group’s Mark Durran and JLL’s John Williams and Tom Nattrass, who declined to comment.

Selling to YTL could prompt a broader sell-off of the Buckeridge construction and residential property operation. BGC operates across building products, ­construction materials, home building, civil and commercial construction, and mining contracting. The group has been reported to have won interest from private equity groups interested in taking control of the most ­lucrative businesses and selling the remainder.

YTL, which has a market capitalisation of about 2 billion ringgit ($674.5 million) and owns prime hotel and hospitality-related properties across Asia, declined to comment.

But it has close ties with Westin operator Marriott, and in Malaysia its properties include the JW Marriott Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur.

It also owns Malaysia’s Pangkor Laut, Tanjong Jara and Cameron Highlands resorts and the Vistana chain of hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kuantan.

The fund also owns the Hilton Niseko Village in Japan. Property executives say it has been chasing the Perth property.

The Westin Perth has 368 rooms, more than 2300sqm of conference facilities and Perth’s largest hotel ballroom, able to cater to up to 520 guests.

The Aloft Perth, with 224 rooms, and the adjoining leased office building known as 25 Rowe Avenue is also under contract.

A spokesman for BGC Australia says: “We confirm the sale of the group’s Westin and Aloft Hotels in Perth, Western Australia is ongoing, with a number of interested parties engaged in the process.”

– with Lisa Allen

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