EDDIE PHILLIPS: Cashed-up businessman is now eyeing off Byron Bay?s Beach Hotel.
EDDIE PHILLIPS: Cashed-up businessman is now eyeing off Byron Bay?s Beach Hotel.

Eddie sells his Mullum pubs in $34m deal ? now he wants Beach Hotel

By WILL JACKSON will.jackson@northernstar.com.au

A CASHED-UP Eddie Phillips has his eye on the jewel in the crown of Byron Bay's property market.

The 'Spa King' last week sold off his two Mullumbimby pubs and the Kirra Beach Hotel as a $34-million package deal to North Queensland business magnate 'Barramundi' Tom Hedley.

And with a bit of spending money to throw about, Mr Phillips is now sniffing around the top of Jonson Street in Byron Bay.

"I'd like to buy the Beach Hotel, if it happened to be on the market," he said yesterday. "It's a great pub. Corny's done a great job there."

But it seems Mr Phillips, whose primary concern now is his expansive resort in Fiji, will have to get in line, with everyone from media tycoon Jamie Packer to the IAG Property Group rumoured to be chasing the prime piece of real estate.

A column in the weekend's Sun-Herald suggested the Macquarie Bank had already purchased the iconic pub.

However, Beach Hotel staff have repeatedly denied the pub is even on the market.

When asked what he would be willing to pay for the coun- try's most easterly hotel, Mr Phillips said he was 'looking at the figures'.

"I've heard something to the tune of $40 million would be about right," he said, undercutting previously suggested prices of between $45 million and a staggering $69 million.

Mr Phillips bought the Commercial Hotel five years ago in a private sale for $3.45 million and the Chincogan Hotel two years ago at auction for $3.65 million.

He has since spent about $1.3 million upgrading the Commercial.

Mr Phillips said he had included the two Mullumbimby pubs in a package deal after Mr Hedley expressed interest in the Kirra Beach Hotel at Surfers Paradise because he was 'sick and tired of dealing with morons' at Byron Shire Council.

Mr Phillips has had a longrunning feud with the council over several commercial and residential developments.

Both the Mullumbimby hotels needed a lot of urgent work, and Mr Phillips said he couldn't be bothered going through a hurried development application process with the council.

"I'm looking forward to buying mayor Jan Barham a bunch of flowers on her exit from council at the next election," he said.

Mr Hedley, 55, has been rebuilding his hospitality empire after selling all but one of his Queensland hotels to Coles Myer in February year for a reported $306 million.

A plumber-turned property magnate, he recently debuted on the BRW rich list at number 56 with $515 million in assets.

Mr Hedley owns the Hedley Group in Cairns which has property management, plumbing, sheet metal and joinery divisions.

He picked up the 'Barramundi' tag after 15 months fighting with the Coles Myer Group over his hotel group.

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