Suncorp parts with LJ Hooker

by BN24 Sep 2009

The grandson of the founder of Australia's second-largest residential real estate agency is set to sign a $67m deal to buy the company from troubled Brisbane-based lender Suncorp, The Australian reported today.

Suncorp confirmed that Janusz Hooker, an Australian Olympic rowing bronze medallist, was in exclusive talks to buy the chain, which last year contributed $8m in profit to the bank.

Hooker has been head of the Chinese arm of private equity firm WP Carey for the last 10 years and is understood to be keen to expand LJ Hooker's Asian operations. Suncorp has been hit hard by the GFC and is looking to downsize further with future sales of its commercial property and equipment financing businesses.

Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker opened the first LJ Hooker office in Maroubra, Sydney, in 1928. Suncorp bought the business in 1989 and expanded it internationally in 1996, first to New Zealand, then PNG, China, Indonesia, Fiji, UAE and India.

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