Malaysian-owned investment vehicle Mulpha Australia Ltd is selling Hayman Island in the Whitsundays to billionaire South African hotelier Sol Kerzner.
Top federal and state tourism bureaucrats, as well as senior Queensland government figures, are meeting with Kerzner International executives in the coming weeks.
When deeds are finalised, Kerzner, the owner of luxury hotel chain One&Only and the Atlantis resort on the Palm in Dubai, will close the existing property on Hayman Island for around three months from January next year to complete yet further renovations.
Kerzner's other luxury properties are in The Bahamas, Mexico, Mauritius and The Maldives. Mulpha acquired a portfolio of Australian assets, including Hayman and Sanctuary Cove, in 2004.
Hayman (whose neighbour Hamilton Island was bought by wine Rich Lister Bob Oatley for $185 million in 2003) was first developed in the 1950s by airline magnate Reg Ansett.
It has also been a happy hunting ground for Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch. In 1995, the News Corporation chairman hosted separate talks on the island with then PM Paul Keating and opposition leader John Howard, ahead of the 1996 election.
The same year, UK Labour leader Tony Blair addressed Lord Copper and his lieutenants there, before News International papers backed Blair's successful 1997 tilt for 10 Downing Street. And in 1997, Rupert hosted a retirement party at Hayman for then News Ltd chairman (and, coincidentally, Ansett director) Ken Cowley. And so the worm turns...
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