FNPF buys out GPH partners

Unconfirmed reports have emerged that the Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH) in Fiji is now fully owned by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF).

The historic building, local landmark and well known icon of South Pacific tourism has been the subject of months of negotiation among its three shareholders – the FNPF (25%), Papua New Guinea’s National Superannuation Fund (NASFUND – 50%) and PNG-based property development firm Lamana Development (25%).

It is understood the PNG partners were divesting, barely 10 years after they bought into it and that FNPF was in talks with them for a total buyout.

Although no official word has been issued, sources close to the negotiations informed Islands Business that the deal had closed and that the PNG partners were treated to a farewell dinner. All three parties remained tightlipped on the development and questions sent to them remained unanswered.

NASFUND had bought into GPH in 2010 for a reported F$90 million (USD42.23m), which included 50 per cent of the businesses and refurbishing the building, which had remained derelict and empty ever since the Nauru Government, which had previously owned it via its Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust, bought it in 1988 but could not keep up with the deterioration until it had to close it in 1992.

The Fijian Government of 2000, under Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry expropriated the property just before the coup of that year.

The plan to restore the then derelict building was taken up by successive governments, which finally led to FNPF’s involvement in its ownership in 2005, when the property was bought by a joint venture between the now scrapped FNPF Investment Ltd (80%) and the now disbanded Fiji Investment Corporation Ltd (20%), a former government investment vehicle operational under Laisenia Qarase’s prime ministership.

It is not known how much the PNG owners have now sold their shares for and if they have managed to recover their investments.

Now redesigned and refurbished, the ‘Grand Ole Lady’, as the GPH is more commonly referred to, was built in 1914 by Union Steamship Company and sits on a portion of over two hectares of land along the foreshore of Suva harbour.