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Fosters to sell CUB’s Southbank headquarters

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Australia’s largest liquor company Fosters has moved to offload the Southbank headquarters of its famous subsidiary Carlton & United Breweries in a deal tipped to fetch $80 million once the six-storey building is sold.

Fosters has sounded out a number of Melbourne real estate agencies with the aim of appointing one within the next few weeks to market the property, sources close to proceedings who didn’t want to be identified said.

CUB's brewery site in Abbotsford. CUB’s brewery site in Abbotsford. Photo: Andrew De La Rue

CUB has used the concrete office block, located in Melbourne’s coveted arts district immediately behind the National Gallery of Victoria, as its headquarters since it was built in early 1991.

Fosters purchased the building for $5 million around the same time.

CUB staff occupy the 11,679 square metres of lettable space in the triangular shaped building which sits on the corner of Sturt Street and Southbank Boulevard.

The property also has two large ground-floor showrooms and contains, in a nod to its arts precinct status, the Joan Hammond Hall rehearsal space.

Southbank has been the centre of intense developer focus with multiple sites turned into large residential apartments.

The most recent deal involves the Autohaus showroom at 202-214 Normanby Road, Southbank which has sold for $13 million after more than five months on the market. The transaction was struck by Lemon Baxter agent Nick Bade and Dawkins Occhiuto agent Walter Occhiuto.

The 1518 square metre site, which has a permit for a 40-storey 284-apartment tower, was snapped up by Blue Earth Group developer Michael Dib.

Title deeds show a company called No Assets, controlled by Mr Dib, put a caveat on the property in March. Mr Dib declined to reveal details about the acquisition.

Blue Earth has two other Southbank projects on its books – the International tower on Haig Street and Gravity on Gladstone Street – but is active in Collingwood and Brunswick and the middle ring suburbs of Essendon and Balwyn.

While the intensity of activity in Southbank had slowed in recent months, a number of new sites have just been put into play.

One semi-vacant site on the corner of Kavanagh Street and Kings Way being marketed by Savills Australia has permits for a two tower development with 794 apartments and retail space.

It is being sold by a company associated with Jingxia Liu which purchased the land early in 2015 for $16 million.

CBRE is marketing a three-storey building at 190-196 City Road which is believed to have interest above $20 million, a big premium on the price paid by Datacom, a New Zealand technology company, which purchased it in 2005.

Melbourne University has also moved to offload a large vacant 4176 square metre plot at 268 Sturt Street through Colliers International as it seeks funds to build the new home for the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music nearby.

The university’s site, located behind a small nature reserve on the corner of Sturt Street and Kings Way, is used as a public car park.

Land in Southbank typically fetches about $7500 per square metre.

The largest project in the area, a vast $1.15 billion development, is on a West Gate Freeway-facing block.

Malaysian group PD Development Holdings won approval in 2015 to build four residential towers up to 72-storeys, a 54-storey hotel, a 37-storey office building and 10,000 square metres of retail, including a supermarket, on another former car park site at 93-119 Kavanagh Street.

CUB said it was looking at “various commercial options.” 

“Regardless of the outcome of the review process our headquarters will remain in the current Southbank building on a long-term basis,” the group said.

Fosters sold off another of its Melbourne headquarters in 2015 to Chinese investment vehicle Hengyi.

Hengyi paid more than $20 million for an Abbotsford office building and warehouses next to CUB’s nine-hectare brewery on the Yarra River.

Fosters was acquired in 2011 by South Africa’s SABMiller – a company that was subsequently purchased in 2015 by Belgium liquor giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. CUB is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch.

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