MA Financial swoops on 10 marinas

The marinas (shaded) at Rushcutters Bay and Docklands.

MA Financial has snapped up 10 marinas – the majority in New South Wales – for a trust it is now seeking investors for.

Balmain Corporation and Goldman Sachs acquired Martha Cove marina for $43 million in 2015.

The ASX-listed group is paying $225 million -reflecting an eight per cent yield – for the assets, known as the d’Albora portfolio.

The vendor was Balmain Corporation which, with Goldman Sachs, acquired seven of them from Ardent Leisure Group for $126m in 2016.

Queenscliff Harbour hit the market in January.

“The acquisition will seed the newly launched MA Marina Fund, a closed ended multi-asset fund that will provide investors with exposure to defensive income streams arising from the marina assets,” the buyer said in a statement.

“Balmain will participate in the fund as a cornerstone investor with an initial interest of 30 per cent,” it added.

Settlement is scheduled in June.

The deal comes three months since a consortium including ex-Nufarm director Doug Rathbone listed Queenscliff Harbour, in Victoria, with c$30m-plus price hopes.

d’Albora portfolio

All up, the d’Albora marinas can accommodate 2700 vessels.

Most of them are also supported by marine services, leisure and tourist businesses.

The majority of the assets are in Sydney including Akuna Bay at Terrey Hills, Cabarita Point, Rushcutters Bay and The Spit at Mosman.

The portfolio also includes Nelson Bay at Port Stephens, about 50 kilometres north east of Newcastle (story continues below).

The portfolio includes infrastructure and berths at Mosman’s The Spit.

In Melbourne, the collection comprises a section of Victoria Harbour – 28 Cumberland Street, Docklands – and Pier 35 at 263-329 Lorimer (pictured, top), about six kilometres south west of the CBD.

The deal also takes in management rights to the Port of Airlie marina at Airlie Beach – a gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.

Horizon Shores, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and Martha Cove on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula – which like Port of Airlie, were properties Balmain and Goldman Sachs owned before the Ardent purchase – also form part of the deal.

“The portfolio comes with the existing highly experienced corporate management team and ongoing strategic support from Balmain, ensuring continuity for customers and members,” MA Financial joint chief executive officer, Julian Biggins, said.

“We see a clear investment opportunity for our clients in this asset class,” he added.

“Marinas have characteristics and benefits that set them apart from traditional real estate investments,” according to the executive.

“The d’Albora assets are located in fantastic locations and are in many ways irreplaceable given the constraints on developing new marinas especially in Sydney Harbour.

“Throughout economic cycles, marinas have proven resilient and the core d’Albora portfolio delivered strong earnings during the Global Financial Crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are also pleased that Balmain has chosen to remain invested in the d’Albora portfolio via the MA Marina Fund and look forward to working with them as we expand the footprint of the portfolio and build on d’Albora being the clear leader in the industry”.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of