Serepisos' former headquarters up for sale again

Fourth time in 10 years Wellington's beleaguered ASB Tower has been for sale.

Wellington’s beleaguered ASB Tower, the former headquarters of Terry Serepisos, is for sale yet again.

It has been put on the market by well-known Wellington property developer Mark Dunajtschik after he bought it for $22 million in the middle of last year.

It is the fourth time in 10 years the Wellington landmark office building with views over the harbour has changed hands.

The property’s chequered history started in 1989 when it was built for $4 million on Wellington City Council leasehold land for Crown-owned Development Finance Corporation – a joint venture between the government, the Reserve Bank and the major trading banks.

In 1986 it was corporatised as DFC NZ and three years later was sold to the National Provident Fund and Salomon Brothers.

The company was put into statutory management shortly after and liquidated in 1991 after ill-fated investments in property speculation saddled it with a mountain of bad debts.

By 2006 the building had fallen into the hands of former bankrupt property developer and one-time owner of the Wellington Phoenix football team, Terry Serepisos, who paid $23 million for it. It housed his offices on the 16th floor.

His commercial property empire was hit hard in the global financial crisis and he was declared bankrupt in 2011, owing more than $200 million.

In 2012 the 9375sq m property on a 1387sq m site was bought by Wellington lawyer Michael Garnham and his father-in-law Michael Spackman’s company Sams Bay Holdings for $22 million.

Mr Spackman later emerged as the trustee seller for Mr Garnham of a stretch of the Awaroa beach in Abel Tasman, which was bought following a highly publicised crowdfunding campaign to return it to public ownership.

Messrs Garnham and Spackman and companies they own are being chased by BNZ for more than $6 million and the bank has security over a $1.6 million house lived in by the Garnham family and a $3 million deer farm near Wanaka.

In the middle of last year The Hunter, a company owned by Mr Dunajtschik, bought the property from Sams Bay Holdings for $20.2 million, in what he described at the time as an unusual deal. He is now selling the property which is being marketed by CBRE.  

The tower, described as a “trophy property,” has been through a multi-million refurbishment and floors have been re-leased to some high profile tenants since 2012. The property is on a Wellington City Council 21-year perpetually-renewable Glasgow ground lease.

The property generates income of $3.3 million from tenants, ASB, Caniwi Capital, Electricity Authority, Shell, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Tonkin & Taylor and OM Financial.  CBRE says there is potential to lift this by about another $1 million.

Wellington has strong investor demand for high-quality CBD buildings from both international and domestic investors in a booming property market.

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