- Terry Serepisos made his name as a high-flying Wellington property developer
- In 2007, he bankrolled the Phoenix football franchise in the Australian A-League
- In 2010, Serepisos was “the boss” in the New Zealand production of The Apprentice
- He was declared bankrupt in September 2011
Former bankrupt property tycoon Terry Serepisos is back in business in the capital and has bought back into the former jewel in his empire.
Serepisos confirmed he had re-purchased the Distinction Wellington Century City hotel – the flagship of the high-flying property developer’s portfolio before it was sold in the months leading up to his bankruptcy in September 2011.
He once described the Tory St hotel as his “proudest moment in business.”
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“I’ve bought the whole hotel and 101 car parks. It’s a return to Wellington. It’s the hotel I built, ”Serepisos said.
He described the move as “positive for Wellington”.
The purchase represented a “fresh start” for Serepisos and he said he saw his future in real estate investments in New Zealand.
“New Zealand is always home for me as I have grown up here for most of my life and all my family are here.”
At the height of his wealth Serepisos was well known for his jet-setting lifestyle, multimillion-dollar home in Mt Victoria and was often seen behind the wheel of a bevy of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Jaguar cars.
Serepisos proudly admitted to indulging in US $ 600 Italian shoes and getting a tailor-made shirt every week. In 2010 he assumed Donald Trump’s role in the New Zealand production of reality television show The Apprentice.
In 2007 he bankrolled the A-League football franchise the Wellington Phoenix with a check for $ 1.25 million. By the time he was forced to step away in 2011 he estimated he’d poured $ 8m to $ 10m into the club.
Shortly after Serepisos was declared bankrupt with debts of over $ 200m.
Property records show Serepisos’ ownership of titles in Distinction Wellington Century City is at least partly financed by privately owned Australian financier Alceon Group.
Grant Henderson, regional general manager of Bayleys Real Estate Wellington, confirmed his company had been appointed the sole agency for the marketing of 89 apartments in the former hotel.
John Fisk, a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was involved in the receivership of Serepisos’ companies in 2011. The global financial crisis and a “high risk appetite” was a factor in many high profile business failures at the time, he said.
“It was a reflection of the market and the environment that we were operating at that stage. Property developers were taking on a lot of debt and that was common across the board, ”he said.
Fisk said the current market had some similarities to the conditions that preceded the global financial crisis with high levels of debt funded by high property prices.
“As property prices have gone up, people have paid for those prices with a combination of debt and their own resources. When prices go backwards it becomes more difficult to service that debt or to repay it when properties need to be sold at a loss. ”