Shire pub snapped up by tres amigos

Shire pub snapped up by tres amigos

So three men walk into a bar - John Singleton, Geoff Dixon and Mark Carnegie - and after a beer, decide they like it, so they buy it. No, it's not a joke, it's just the way the three "amigos" seem to do business when it comes to pubs. The latest deal is the $4.6 million purchase of the Como Hotel in Como (aka the Shire). It will be added to the trio's associate the Riversdale Group, which includes Paddington rugby and racing haunt the Bellevue.

Riversdale CEO Paddy Coughlan said Singo was heavily involved in due diligence on the pub. "He rang [rugby league legend] Ron Massey and asked him to go have a beer in there. Thankfully Ron gave it the thumbs up. Geoff Dixon was also strongly in favour of the purchase due to the obvious operational upside and the $9.5 million replacement cost on the land and buildings. Mark Carnegie just asked who Ron Massey was and what or where is the Shire"

Fiji land for sale

It's been 34 long years, but Boris Ganke is still trying to find a buyer for a slice of tropical heaven.

Ganke, a wily veteran businessman who this week executed some snappy manoeuvres to remain at the helm of Southern Cross Exploration (SXX), controls 17 hectares of beachfront property in Fiji together with business partner Evelyn Goh.

The land is at Nadi Bay, where the only sounds are the gentle lapping of water and the discreet roar of jets taking off and landing at the airport, the main runway of which runs beside the block.

SXX's shareholders would like to call in a $7 million loan to the Fijian company through which Ganke and Goh control the property, Nadi Bay Beach Corporation (NBBC).

But what chance would they have of making a dollar out of the land when Ganke has been trying to flog it off, bit by bit, since 1978?

In November that year NBBC placed an ad (pictured) in Sydney's Sun-Herald, offering "Beachfront estate villa sites" on the "sun-drenched tropical shores of Nadi Bay", starting from $16,900.

Research by Fairfax Media's library team shows NBBC used the classified columns of The Sydney Morning Herald to make much the same offer twice more the following month and once more in March 1979. The ads give the same Elizabeth Street, Sydney, address as that enjoyed by SXX and another Ganke company, Chapmans.

Chapmans' latest set of accounts, issued in August last year, show it loaned "less than $150,000 . . . over 30 years ago" to NBBC, but the interest owing on the loan has blown out to $512,000 and directors have written off the loan "as they cannot be fully satisfied of the recoverability at present".

Surely not. After all, NBBC in its 1979 ads offered "investment in Fiji which, if you've been there you will know is a sound and increasingly popular idea" promising "high investment return potential".

Ganke told CBD 46 quarter-acre lots had been sold, with the latest fetching $F750,000 (about $410,000) 18 months ago.

"We've had three or four political coups in Fiji but the market in Fiji is currently particularly buoyant and we're confident we'll make a return in due course," he said.

Let's hope so.

Caving in to age

Balding ex-punk Nick Cave has cracked the sads at attracting an affluent and ageing audience that includes the likes of the Premier, Barry O'Farrell.

This week the middle-aged crooner and his band, the Bad Seeds, played two shows at that anti-establishment icon, the Sydney Opera House, and the Premier and his retinue of bureaucrats were among the legions of suits absorbing the third-hand Seaview Ballroom vibes on Tuesday.

Come Wednesday's show, easy-listening star Cave did a double-take after looking down at the front row of the crowd and noticing that they were a generation younger than Tuesday's mob. "Last night was like singing to a crowd of Leonard Cohen fans," Nick the Stripper jeered.

Dixon junior woes

While pubs seem to be going well for Geoff Dixon, his son Ben's digital media company has hit financial strife.

Dixon snr is on the board of his son's Facilitate Digital Holdings, which on Thursday used its half-year financial statement to reveal it is depending on a pending $535,000 R&D tax refund to remain a going concern.

Let's hope the federal government doesn't do any more fiddling with the R&D incentive - it has already announced it will restrict the scheme to small companies.

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