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Paterson estate sells key Queenstown asset

By Chris Hutching

Friday 31st October 2003

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The $16.25 million sale last week of the Steamer Wharf development on Queenstown's waterfront was part of a selldown of assets by the trust of the late Howard Paterson who died in June.

Steamer Wharf was developed in the 1990s and owned by a group including Mr Paterson, John Darby, John Martin (who sold his stake last year) and Peter Hanson.

Mr Darby and fellow shareholders were approached by the buyers ­ a consortium led by Southlanders Tony Butson and John Stevenson ­ which has also bought other commercial properties in the resort town.

The Steamer Wharf owners sold four of the five buildings on the site for $16.25 million representing a yield of 6.3%, while retaining ownership of the stone waterfront building, which is leased to Real Journeys.

The estate of Mr Paterson had earmarked its interest in a Steamer Wharf sale.

But Mr Darby said he had been approached by Messrs Butson and Stevenson before any marketing campaign was launched and while he and fellow shareholder Mr Hanson were still considering buying the Paterson interest themselves.

When Steamer Wharf was built it was controversial because of its waterfront aspect but it was designed to allow public access and has become a landmark property in the town. It has 16 tenancies.

Steamer Wharf's sale is likely to go down as one of the biggest commercial property deals of the year in Queenstown.

Meanwhile, Mr Paterson's estate and Messrs Martin and Darby (via Wakatipu Trust) also sold a 7025sq m Douglas St site for $1.3 million ­ where Woodlot Properties plans to build apartments.

Other properties likely to be rationalised from the Paterson investment portfolio include interests in Fiji resort developments.

At Clearwater Resort near Christchurch his interests have been bought out by fellow investors including Mr Darby.

Other property held indirectly by the Paterson estate is a stake in listed company, Hirequip (formerly Southern Capital), which he founded.

The lucrative Omaha Beach development is being sold down, and Hirequip last week advertised its Pegasus Bay development for sale.

The company fought for several years to obtain the appropriate zoning for the site near Woodend north of Christchurch.

These sales, along with the transformation of the company into a hire equipment venture and the appointment to the board of a Paterson trustee David Smallbone, appear welcomed by new shareholders, judging by the strengthening share price in recent weeks.

Mr Paterson's financial empire was estimated at more than $170 million when he died, aged 51, in Fiji after choking on food.

He was negotiating a new deal with the Fiji government that involved another resort property.

He had been part of a consortium that developed Denarau Resort and also had an interest in Vuomo Island.

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