Home World Business Matt Moran expands his pub empire, snapping up Newtown’s Marlborough Hotel

Matt Moran expands his pub empire, snapping up Newtown’s Marlborough Hotel

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Hospitality giants Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon have added to their rapidly expanding pub portfolio, snapping up one of Sydney’s most iconic venues, Newtown’s Marlborough Hotel.

The hotel, affectionately known as the Marly, was sold by long-time business partners and mates, former Qantas boss Geoff Dixon and adman John Singleton. They are believed to have made a profit of more than $20 million from the deal.

The Marlborough Hotel, Newtown, has been sold to Solotel, run by celebrity chef Matt Moran and business partner Bruce ... The Marlborough Hotel, Newtown, has been sold to Solotel, run by celebrity chef Matt Moran and business partner Bruce Solomon. 

The sale was part of the pair’s program to sell assets they had bought through their Australian Pub Fund at a time when the hotels were seen as distressed and needing capital injections.

It’s the latest big hotel deal for Mr Moran and Mr Solomon’s Solotel group, coming just months after the company took control of the Eastern suburbs beachside-based Clovelly Hotel, which it plans to upgrade into a “foodie” pub. 

Solotel owns numerous other hospitality businesses around Australia including Opera Bar, the recently refurbished Aria restaurant at Sydney’s Circular Quay and The Paddington Inn, as well as Double Bay’s The Sheaf and Woollahra’s Chiswick.

“Solotel is delighted to add to the Marlborough Hotel to the existing four hotels we manage in the Newtown area,” Mr Solomon said.

By the end of the year, the group will be operating more than 30 hospitality businesses in Sydney and Brisbane, closing in on hotel czar Justin Hemmes’ Merivale Group, whose venues include the Ivy on George Street,The Newport, The Paddington and Coogee Pavillion.

Pub sales continue

Australian Pub Fund (APF), valued at about $300 million, bought the Marlborough for $12.17 million in 2012. While no price has been disclosed, market suggestions are that the latest sale price was “consistent with the guidance provided throughout and before the expressions of interest divestment program”, which was about $34 million.

Matt Moran is rapidly expanding his footprint across town. Matt Moran is rapidly expanding his footprint across town. Photo: Janie Barrett

Mr Dixon, Mr Singleton and their silent partner in APF, investor Mark Carnegie, had planned to float the pub fund in 2014, but as IPOs struggled to get off the ground on the Australian sharemarket they moved to consolidate their investments and focus on profits rather than taking on new investors or buy more properties. 

The businessmen have already sold five pubs in as many months, including the Toxteth pub to Mitchell Waugh’s Public House Management Group for $10 million, the Peakhurst Inn for $22.5 million, the Bristol Arms for $19.5 million and the Como for about $5.5 million.

Clovelly Hotel, one of the best pubs located in Eastern Suburbs. Clovelly Hotel, one of the best pubs located in Eastern Suburbs. Photo: supplied

The remaining pubs in the portfolio, tipped to be offered for sale this year, are the Kinselas in Darlinghurst, which APF bought in 2012 for $12 million, Unity Hall in Balmain and the Vic on the Park in Marrickville. There are also two pubs slated fo sale in Brisbane, the Stock Exchange and Elephant Arms.

Exclusive agent for the Marly hotel, Ray White’s Asia Pacific director Andrew Jolliffe, said the pub had attracted “significant local and international interest”.

“The Marly sale continues the considerable momentum the national hotel asset class has enjoyed over the past 24 months,” he said.

Last year was one of the busiest for Australia’s pub sector, with more than $500 million worth of assets having changed hands.

Mr Jolliffe forecast the wave of hotel sales and takeovers would continue, saying his firm alone had about $125 million worth of other so-called “Super A Grade” hotel assets currently under agreement nationally.

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