Sam Arnaout, the wealthy pub and hotel baron who snapped up Casino Canberra last year, will take over the Macquarie Street office of the late television king, Reg Grundy, signalling a changing of the guard among Sydney’s rich families.
The office is in Hudson House, an otherwise ordinary building were it not for the sweeping views of Sydney Harbour and Royal Botanic Gardens it offers, or the vast wealth of its tenants. Built in 1965, the office building is home to some of the country’s most sophisticated family offices including Cambooya, the offices of the Fairfax family and previously housed Ritam, the family office of Gretel Packer.
Mr Arnaout, 48, a former panel beater who now lives in a penthouse in the Toaster building at Circular Quay, debuted on Financial Review’s Rich List in 2022. This year, his fortune has been estimated to be $2.23 billion. He bought the whole-floor apartment at Circular Quay from late hotelier Cyril Maloney and his widow, Margaret.
The Hudson House office changed hands in late November, two months after the death of Dr Grundy’s widow, Logie-award winning actress Joy Chambers-Grundy. Dr Grundy, the powerhouse television producer behind Neighbours, died aged 92 in 2016 in Bermuda. His death was followed by family drama with his estranged daughter, Viola La Valette, who challenged Ms Chambers-Grundy over his will.
Ms Chambers-Grundy died in September at 76.
Dr Grundy’s presence in the Macquarie Street building endures with his personal collection of wildlife photos adorning Hudson House’s foyer.
Mr Arnaout, who grew up in Greenacre in Sydney’s west, has built up a gambling, hospitality and commercial property empire. The business now includes Lasseters Hotel Casino in Alice Springs, the Canberra Casino and over 1300 poker machines. His portfolio of pubs includes the Hotel Steyne in Manly, the Ivanhoe Hotel, The Bourbon in Potts Point, The Palms Hotel in Chullora as well as others in Alice Springs. He also owns Hungerford Hill Winery in the Hunter Valley, which he bought off the Kirby family.
Billionaire Sam Arnaout has a stake in casinos, property developments and a number of hotels. Natalie Boog
Mr Arnaout has pushed aggressively into property development, with a four-block apartment project under way in central Newcastle across 1.66 hectares. He also has construction projects under way in Sydney and the Gold Coast, where he is building an $800 million apartment mega-development at Broadbeach.
Mr Arnaout started his business after making a windfall profit on his 1998 purchase of Lidcombe post office – which was next to the main interchange railway station for Olympic Park. The Sydney Olympic foot traffic boosted the profits, allowing him to buy the Horse and Jockey Hotel in Homebush for $4.5 million, which he then sold for $9 million once he was granted approval to develop the property.
Hudson House, which has a 150-space car park, has attracted some of the wealthiest families in the country. Caledonia, the hedge fund to some of the wealthiest in the country run by Will Vicars and Mike Messara, takes up two floors. The fund was started by Mark Nelson along with Ian Darling, a descendent of John Darling, one of Australia’s biggest wheat exporters in the 1880s.
It has previously housed Gretel Packer’s Ritam family office, although the billionaire sold her holding in the building for $13.5 million in 2021. She has since bought a commercial building in Edgecliff where Godolphin, the thoroughbred breeding and horseracing outfit run by Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has its offices.
Hudson House’s Melbourne equivalent, Como Tower, is located on the corner of Chapel Street and Toorak Road in South Yarra. Known colloquially as the Tower of Power, the office block houses the Victor Smorgon Group and Raphael Geminder’s Kin Group.
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