John McGrath


Sydney real estate tycoon John McGrath has emphatically stated his commitment to staying put, following revelations that discussions are underway to sell his publicly listed agency to global property behemoths Knight Frank and Bayleys.

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“I’m here for the long haul,” declared McGrath, expressing optimism for the future pending shareholder approval of the deal.

Under the proposed arrangement, McGrath will retain his role as chief executive of the division and accept unlisted shares in exchange for his majority stake. Despite the transition to an unlisted entity, McGrath’s operations will remain unchanged, retaining its current name and encompassing various facets including franchise operations, company-owned ventures, project marketing, and mortgage brokering under Oxygen Home Loans.

“The consortium recently approached me to gauge my interest in maintaining my position as the major shareholder and CEO. I unequivocally affirmed my commitment, signaling my enduring presence within the business,” McGrath affirmed.

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Pending approval, McGrath shareholders will have the choice to receive 60¢ cash per share, opt for an unlisted scrip alternative, or select a combination of both. This move would signify the conclusion of McGrath’s tenure as a publicly listed ASX company.

“This marks not an end, but a transition into a new phase for us. Knight Frank’s long-term vision aligns with our own, offering a departure from the short-term pressures typical of publicly listed enterprises,” McGrath noted.

Established in Paddington in 1988, McGrath’s initial listing on the ASX in 2015 generated significant buzz, although its market performance never reached the heights anticipated, trading well below its initial share price. With a current market value of $74.8 million, news of the impending deal spurred a 24.4 per cent surge in its share price to 58.5¢ intraday.

Knight Frank, a prominent residential specialist agency in Europe, seeks to bolster its presence in Australia through this acquisition, while Bayleys, hailing from New Zealand, eyes expansion into Australia’s eastern seaboard.

Expressing enthusiasm, Knight Frank’s Australian CEO James Patterson remarked, “We’re thrilled at the prospect of partnering with McGrath, a well-established player in Australian residential property.”

McGrath viewed the deal as opportune, coinciding with positive trends in the housing market. “Prices, particularly in the luxury segment, have remained robust,” he observed. “Despite challenges at the lower end due to high-interest rates, we anticipate a rebound as rates decline over the coming years.”