By Andrew Starke
NSW publicans are waiting to see if pub operator National Leisure and Gaming (NLG) will exercise its ‘first right’ to acquire a portfolio of pubs from the debt-ridden Hedley Leisure and Gaming Property Fund (HLG).
It now appears inevitable that the fund – which owns a pub portfolio valued at about $400 million – will need to sell-off some of its assets with a number of pubs believed to be close to sale this week.
HLG is in debt to the tune of $745 million and its management is seeking to restructure the company.
While HLG would not confirm the three pubs that are close to sale, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) named these as the Canterbury Hotel and Lidcombe Hotel in Sydney’s west, and the Bridgeview Hotel in Willoughby.
All three have NLG as a tenant and are expected to be sold for well below their most recent valuations.
The HLG website values the Canterbury Hotel at $15.05 million but the AFR believes it will be offered to the market for $8.85 million, the Lidcombe Hotel is valued at $7.8 million and will be offered for $6.6 million, while the Bridgeview is valued at $11.1 million and will be offered for $7.5 million.
While NLG managing director, Andrew Jolliffe would not be drawn on the group’s interest in specific pubs, he told TheShout that his experience of the fall-out from Tom Hedley’s business empire was largely restricted to the disappointment and concern he felt for Tom personally.
“His demise has been dramatic and incredibly public, however what is often over looked in my opinion is that this is an individual who is at the very least an iconic entrepreneur, and in addition was a suitably proud if not modest man who almost single handedly drove the economy in Far North Queensland,” he said.
“NLG have never missed a rent commitment, and the recipient at the other end of same each month is largely irrelevant to the continuance of this exemplary record.”