(Australian Associated Press)
Australia Post’s historic sandstone General Post Office buildings may be sold off as the cash-strapped postal organisation begins a review of its multi-million dollar property portfolio.
Australia Post has confirmed it is in the “early stages” of a property review after media reports the business is preparing to place its heritage-listed capital city GPO buildings into a property trust.
Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday that the postal service, which recorded a $222 million loss last year, will transfer the freehold of six of its seven GPOs into an unlisted trust and retain a 40 per cent stake.
The sandstone landmarks include 1 Martin Place, Sydney and Bourke Street mall in Melbourne.
The seventh GPO, in Canberra, will have the leasehold placed into the trust, which will reportedly be run by Eureka Funds Management.
Australia Post said in a statement on Tuesday that it was seeking to maximise return on its properties but was yet to make a final decision on any sell-off.
“If we decided to proceed, we would ensure the heritage significance of these properties is maintained,” an Australia Post spokesman said.
“No decision has been made and this process is only in market evaluation stage.”
Australia Post has taken drastic steps in the past 12 months to balance the books as Australians send fewer and fewer letters in the digital age.
Measures adopted by chief executive Ahmed Fahour include lifting the price of stamps to $1 and introducing a “two-speed” letter delivery in which regular post is two days slower than a more expensive priority service.
Knight Frank institutional sales head James Parry said overseas investors were showing considerable appetite for investing in premium commercial real estate, including heritage sandstone buildings.
“There’s some good track record in overseas buyers buying heritage-listed property, like the Bridge St sandstone properties that were sold to Asian investors for conversion into hotels,” Mr Parry said.
Singaporean developer Pontiac Land won the right to redevelop two Sydney sandstone properties into a luxury hotel in September 2015, agreeing to a 20-year lease worth more than $35 million for the state government.
“Some overseas investors prefer glass, shiny towers, but there’s still a strong demographic of buyers who are just looking at the investment criteria, and if it’s a good investment or not,” Mr Parry said.
Eureka Funds Management declined to comment.