As reported in April, the GPT Group has exercised a pre-emptive purchasing option to snare the final 25 per cent stake in Maribyrnong’s Highpoint Shopping Centre, eight kilometres north west of Melbourne.
GPT is paying the Besen family $680 million to gain full control of the asset – substantially more than the $575 million number it was speculated the deal could be valued at three months ago.
The Sydney-based GPT bought a half share of Highpoint in 2006 for $621 million. Three years later it acquired more equity in the asset.
Marc Besen – whose personal net worth is said to circle $2.4 billion – is part the Gandel-Besen dynasty which developed the shopping centre in the mid-1970s on land which was once the Essendon Quarry and after that, an anti-aircraft battery. The Besen family also control the Sussan fashion chain.
Highpoint was originally proposed to be named Westland (to be consistent with other centres, Northland, Eastland and Southland).
However this name could have been confused with a Westfield shopping centre a few suburbs away in Airport West. Subsequently the Maribyrnong complex was branded Highpoint West, then Highpoint City before just becoming Highpoint.
The retail asset has been extended numerous times and is currently 156,000 square metres. A homemaker centre was built in the 1980s on land which was for years a drive-in-cinema.
The entire Highpoint retail complex was independently valued at $2.3 billion late last year. The property – much of which is a low-rise shopping centre – has enormous redevelopment potential.
In recent years, Highpoint has also been identified as a logical location for a potential train station, something Maribyrnong lacks. The Department of Defence owns a 128-hectare site near Highpoint which is expected longer term to make way for a village containing thousands of dwellings.
GPT said in this statement that the $680 million purchase price reflects a 10 per cent rise on the June 2017 book value.
Upon settlement in September, the GPT Wholesale Shopping Centre Fund (GWSCF) will control 83.33 per cent of the complex with the GPT Group retaining the balance (16.67 per cent).