PROPERTY empire builder Ronald Serry is doing what he does
best, looking for deals on and off market on behalf of some seriously
cashed up investors.
and are Directors of Melbourne based , established in November last year, the and advisory firm is not a fee driven platform and instead seeks to co-invest with .
Serry has partnered with the late Ezriel Rabinowicz (Rabinov), his
mentor, since 1980s when they built a supermarket portfolio and on sold
it, in 1994, to the relatively “unknown” new kid on the block -turn-bank for $120 million. That portfolio would later become , which is now the .
Shortly after, the duo bought a portfolio of commercial properties
and flicked that off to GE Real Estate, which used it as its Australian
platform. Later they launched the on the – sold the management to the – bought it back from the ANZ – and the trust is now in merger talks with .
Serry spoke to Property Review and recounted the Macquarie deal. He
said in the early 1990s Macquarie was virtually unknown and when the
deal was made, Macquarie asked Rabinov to initially lend $25 million to
fund the acquisition.
“Nobody knew who they were and when they went to raise the capital,
they didn’t have enough. They funded $50 million through first
mortgages, borrowed $25 million from us and they came back to us and
asked us, “Can you subscribe to $25 million worth of securities?” and we
“And then we witnessed the rise and fall of the trust, when it went offshore,” he added.
Now, Serry is managing the Rabinov estate for a “passive” future and he set up Gibraltar to assist and re-educate investors.
“The events of the GFC and the implosion of many unlisted and listed
REIT’s have left an unjust stigma on commercial property investment. How
many fund managers have we heard in the last 18-24 months tell us
they’re “getting back to the basics”?
“The truth is that if many did stick to fundamentals and avoided the
typical traps of over financial engineering and acquiring B and C grade
assets for the sake of management fees, mums and dads would still be
receiving their quarterly cheques,” he added.
“When the GFC hit these fund managers were up the creek without a paddle,” he continued.
As well as act as a co-investor, Gibraltar is also a facilitator of
deals, having negotiated the $75 million Woolworths Distribution Centre
in Launceston on behalf of the ; the $120 million GE Botannica Burnley in Melbourne and the $100 million Big W Distribution Centre in Warwick, Queensland.
And Serry said Gibraltar’s investors club is growing and looking for
assets. Having said that, he added the company will not be rushed into
“Gibraltar is in no hurry to acquire property. A property has to tick
every box, not just most boxes for us to put our money in and recommend
it to our club of investors.
“But even before we get to that stage, we want to educate property
investors and ensure they go into future investments (with Gibraltar or
not) with their eyes open,” he continued.
Serry told Property Review, that 99 out of 100 deals the company looks at “is rejected”.
He added that there are a lot of distress assets in the marketplace
and there some very good assets which have been held back by funding,
but it is only the poorer assets that have been tarnished.
Serry said the company and its clients have set no limit on the money
they will spend on assets but added, Gibraltar is solely focussed in