Hooker buys back family business

THE grandson of the founder of LJ Hooker, Leslie Janusz Hooker, has paid $82 million to Suncorp Metway to buy back the family business.

THE grandson of the founder of LJ Hooker, Leslie Janusz Hooker, has paid $82 million to Suncorp Metway to buy back the family business.

Using a consortium of private cash and his own funds, Mr Hooker struck the deal with Suncorp to pay $67 million in cash for the sale of 100 per cent of Hooker Corp and about $15 million in cash from pre-completion dividends.

The sale had been anticipated as Suncorp made it clear earlier this year that it was selling down what it considered non-core assets to help repay debt, caused mainly by the collapse of property developers on the Gold Coast.

The deal was dependent on gaining approval from LJ Hooker's 500-plus independent owners, who form the group's franchise network.

Mr Hooker will be the new executive chairman, and its managing director, Alan Lambert, will remain in that position.

Mr Lambert said yesterday that the housing market was showing good growth despite rises in interest rates. He said the firm's geographic spread gave it a good buffer against the different stages of recovery occurring across the country.

Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker opened the first LJ Hooker real estate agency in Maroubra in 1928. Through its franchisees the name has spread across 12 countries, including India, China and Japan, and growth will continue with the opening of new offices as the real estate sector improves across Asia. The group focuses on residential, but also has an extensive commercial property business.

"I am excited to have this opportunity to continue the LJ Hooker tradition," Mr Hooker said.

"The deal marks a new chapter in the company's 80-year-old history  I am sure my grandfather would be proud to see the company he founded back under the leadership of a member of the family."

Suncorp's group executive for strategy and corporate services, Stuart McDonald, said the bank had received approaches for LJ Hooker over the past few years, but this proposal offered an attractive price for shareholders "as well as an excellent outcome for the LJ Hooker business and real estate network".

Want access to our latest research and new buy ideas?

Start a free 15 day trial and gain access to our research, recommendations and market-beating model portfolios.

Sign up for free

Join the Conversation...

There are comments posted so far.

If you'd like to join this conversation, please login or sign up here

Related Articles