Buildings like New Zealand Post's Petone mail centre seem
like good pickings for commercial property investors. Photo
Private Dunedin investors have picked up two separate New
Zealand Post mail centre buildings around the country in recent
weeks, as the state-owned postal service sheds assets amid
New Zealand Post has also last week sold its unprofitable
online directory Localist, at a loss, to focus on its ailing
mail service and growth aspirations for Kiwibank.
New Zealand Post's mail centre on the Petone Esplanade near
Wellington was on Friday sold to private investment and
equity company Seaview HP Ltd, a division of the
Wellington-based Hodge Group, owned by father and son, John
and Shayne Hodge, formerly of Dunedin.
A week earlier, New Zealand Post's mail centre at Strathallan
St in Dunedin was sold to an unnamed local investor, one of
The Petone purchase was $15.6 million, while at Strathallan
St, the site was purchased for about $5.2 million. Petone has
been leased back until August next year and Strathallan is
initially leased back for nine years.
Bayleys Wellington broker Mark Hourigan said in a statement
the Hodge family has been in property since the 1940s, after
John's father joined and later bought Dunedin construction
company W. L. Tyrie.
John Hodge took over in 1973, and gradually expanded the
business interests. In 1986, he co-founded the Waltus
investment and management group, which grew to become
responsible for the property and corporate management of
NZX-listed Urbus Properties Ltd, Mr Hourigan said.
Last year NZ Post said it was cutting staff numbers by as
much as 2000 over the next three years and scaling back
physical mail deliveries in a bid to return its traditional
business to profitability, while seeking growth by expanding
Kiwibank's wealth and insurance offerings, Business Desk
Localist was set up in 2010 as both a print and digital play
to tackle Yellow Pages, which was financially distressed at
the time and had been taken over by its lenders.
But the collapse in print market revenues hit Localist, chief
financial officer Mark Yeoman told BusinessDesk.
While breaking even on a cash-flow basis, Localist had yet to
turn a profit, and had ''become less of a priority'' as NZ
Post's core businesses soaked up resources, he said.
NZ Post sold the business to chief executive Christina
Domecq, who joined Localist last year when the directory
company abandoned its print editions.
Yeoman declined to comment on the value of the deal, citing
commercial confidentiality, but said media speculation of an
$8 million price-tag ''is sort of there, or thereabouts.''
NZ Post recognised a $28 million impairment on its $30.9
million related-party loan to Localist in the 2013 financial
year. Yeoman said the net write-off of Localist was less than
$20 million, which some media had reported.