PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
PNG’S LIHIR ISLANDERS BUY BRISBANE OFFICE BUILDING
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 10, 2011) – A 17-story building within the landmarks of the Brisbane Central Business District in Australia is an investment that the people of Lihir, Papua New Guinea, should be proud of [,according to Mark Soipang, chairman of MRL [Mineral Resources Lihir] Capital.
[PIR editor’s note:MRL Capital, set up by the Papua New Guinea government under the name Mineral Resources Lihir, was a trust representing the interests of six major clans in Lihir: Tinetalgo, Nissal, Unawos, Lamatlik, Nikama and Tengawom, the beneficiaries. MRL in 2008 became an independent capital investment firm which continues to operate in behalf of the Lihir clans. Lihir is a group of islands belonging to New Ireland province in PNG, off the northern coast of New Britain, north of Papua New Guinea’s main peninsula.]
The investment firmacquired the 17-story building, Flight Centre House, for $A38 million dollars, about K97 million ($USD38.6 million).
The Flight Centre House has three levels of car parks and 14 levels for tenant occupancy. Currently, the building is 86 per cent occupied.
MRL Capital Chairman Mark Soipang said acquiring the property was a huge milestone for the young company.
"Acquiring prime investment property in Australia is not an easy task," Mr. Soipang said. "Since the exit from the Management of Mineral Resources Development Company in 2008, the company has aggressively pursued investment opportunities that meet the requirements of our investment policy," he said.
Mr. Soipang said everything that the MRL Capital has done was to ensure that the 14,000 people of Lihir eventually become self reliant, financially and commercially independent, and that their company is sustainable after the closure of Lihir gold mine.
Flight Centre House has a total floor area to let of 7,438 square meters.
MRL Capital managing director and CEO Thomas Tanasu said Flight Centre is the anchor tenant, occupying 10 levels plus the ground level with over 10 years lease and has the naming right. Flight Centre was founded in 1981 and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in 1985. It employs about 8,000 consultants and support staff globally with a market capitalization of A$ 2.1 billion (USD$2.13 billion).
Mr. Tanasu said other long term residents within the building include Felix Resources, a Chinese coal mining company; Commonwealth of Australia Department of Human Services and Jalalene. Personal Best Australia, Jireh International and part of Flight Centre, occupy the retail accommodation on the ground floor.
"The property currently earns a 9.0 per cent yield given its central location in Brisbane’s central business district," Mr. Tanasu said. "We believe this is the single biggest investment by any Papua New Guinea indigenous company in Australia," he said.
Flight Centre House is located on 316 Adelaide Street in Brisbane and is near train, bus and ferry stations, Queen Street Shopping mall, hotels and banks. Other large corporate companies located in the area include Queensland headquarters of Qantas Airlines, Boeing, Suncorp Bank and National Australia Bank, among others.
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