Pool buyer says he got a bar­gain

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Shane Ni­chols

A Mel­bourne-based busi­ness­man, Paul Hug­gins, has bought most of the Pool Re­sort in Port Dou­glas, and the man­age­ment rights – and can’t be­lieve his luck.

“If I could find an­other one this minute I’d buy it,” Mr Hug­gins told the “It’s a no brainer.”

Mr Hug­gins, who has built an em­pire on a fi­nan­cial ad­vice busi­ness which has a prop­erty devel­op­ment and in­vest­ment arm, now owns 25 apart­ments in Pool.

Mr Hug­gins was a lawyer with Lend Lease back in the early ’90s and then moved into fi­nan­cial ser­vices, start­ing up his com­pany, Mo­men­tum Wealth Man­age­ment which now has about $2 bil­lion un­der man­age­ment.

About 20 years ago he set up a prop­erty arm which has done many small and medium de­vel­op­ments, mostly in Mel­bourne, in­clud­ing lately “a lot of high rise”, with $450 mil­lion of work un­der­way.

His Mo­men­tum In­ter­na­tional Re­sort, part of his prop­erty divi­sion, has bought the apart­ments in Pool.

The re­sort was com­pleted in 2006, just in time for the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and since then it has suf­fered.

About 18 months ago the re­ceivers of Pool re­leased sev­eral lines of apart­ments to the mar­ket.

Mr Hug­gins bought one in the first line of sale, “just to put my toe in the wa­ter. I knew a lot about that par­tic­u­lar as­set. I put it in my su­per fund and over time I thought that’s in­ter­est­ing, it’s done quite well. It’s a ter­rific re­sort that has done ex­tremely well for cash­flow and so forth.

“I got in­volved with a lot of par­ties up there and knew that the re­ceivers were of­fload­ing the as­sets and I won­dered if I could turn this as­set around and make it work.

“I thought, it’s a 12-cylin­der en­gine run­ning on seven cylin­ders. It’s a jewel,” he said.

“I thought if I bought the man­age­ment rights I could make it so this thing is fully booked out 60 per cent of the time. Be­cause there was noth­ing built up there for a long time.

“The plans, the ar­chi­tec­ture, it’s as good as any­thing that’s been built in Mel­bourne and Syd­ney.

“And the qual­ity of the as­set, and the pool – which needs a bit of a work – it was a no-brainer to me.

“With the kind of money the re­ceivers were talk­ing about, I thought this can be turned around in six to eight months.”

Mr Hug­gins said the re­sort had been bur­dened by the stig-

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Re­sort in Port Dou­glas: New owner and man­age­ment

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