Australia’s largest marina network sold

Sydney harbour

Diversified financial services firm MA Financial has entered into an agreement to acquire Australia’s largest marina network, d’Albora, from Balmain Corporation.

The deal, which comprises d’Albora’s portfolio of 10 marinas across Australia‘s eastern seaboard, is worth A$225m (US$152m). MA Financial will also launch the MA Marina Fund as part of the agreement, offering exposure to in-demand alternative real estate assets.

d’Albora‘s portfolio includes locations including Rushcutters Bay, The Spit and Cabarita Point in Sydney Harbour, two marinas adjacent to the Melbourne CBD, and management rights of the Port of Airlie marina, at the gateway to the Whitsundays. Collectively, the marinas can accommodate more than 2,700 vessels and are supported by a range of marine services, leisure, and tourist businesses on site.

Accompanying the acquisition, MA Financial will launch the MA Marina Fund, a closed-ended fund offering exposure to all ten marinas. Balmain will participate in the fund as a cornerstone investor with an initial interest of 30 per cent.

Joint CEO of MA Financial, Julian Biggins, says the acquisition of the marina portfolio is a natural fit for the firm that already has significant investment and operational capability in retail, hospitality, and other alternative real estate assets. 

“We are excited to enter the marina sector and welcome this alternate asset investment class to our real estate portfolio,” says Biggins. “At MA Financial we are largely focused on the specialised and active management of alternative assets, so this unique investment and accompanying new fund complement our existing solutions.

“We see a clear investment opportunity for our clients in this asset class. Marinas have characteristics and benefits that set them apart from traditional real estate investments. They are defensive, cash generative businesses with approximately 90 per cent of revenues relating to boat storage, property rental and boat maintenance, which are of a recurring nature.”

Biggins says Australia’s current marina market and the asset’s resilient earnings profile over a long period of time were also a factor in the acquisition.

“Throughout economic cycles, marinas have proven resilient, and the core d’Albora portfolio delivered strong earnings during the Global Financial Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The fundamentals and outlook for Australia’s marina market are extremely positive. The number of boat registrations on the east coast continues to grow, particularly among larger boats, outpacing the supply of new marina berths, which is limited by a strict regulatory environment and approval requirements as well as the lack of available and suitably located development land and seabed. It’s clear that this supply-demand dynamic will continue to drive strong revenue and earnings for marina operators.”

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