A remote resort in Western Australia’s north has changed hands for the first time in almost 20 years. In the East Kimberley, Lake Argyle Resort has been sold by the Sharpe family to Australian tourism provider G’day Group Discovery Holiday Parks Pty Ltd for $31 million. Attwood Marshall Lawyers Property and Commercial Partner Barry van Heerden discusses the complexities and challenges that were faced during this transaction, and the importance of working together with all parties when transferring a business of this magnitude.
In July 2021, Lake Argyle Resort was put up for sale by the long-term owner and operator Charlie Sharpe, with sale price expectations above $25 million.
“It’s been a huge part of my life,” Charlie Sharpe said of his family business and childhood home.
The 12-hectare property, overlooking the manufactured Argyle dam, evolved into an award-winning holiday destination from humble beginnings.
Lake Argyle Resort, initially built-in in 1968 as accommodation for workers during the construction of the Ord River Dam, lies on Gibb River Road, a famous track for four-wheel-drive travellers exploring the Kimberley region.
In 1973, Lake Argyle Park opened on a 21-year lease and was managed by several hospitality businesses, including hotel giant Accor, which operated it as a tourist village from 1987 to 1994.
A luxury casino resort was to be built on the site by Fraser Consultants in the mid-1980s but was cancelled following the 1987 share market crash.
Mr Sharpe, who spent much of his childhood around Lake Argyle after his father was positioned there to maintain the dam, secured the leasehold in 2004 after he returned to Australia, following a career directing various tourism businesses in New Jersey and Florida.
Mr Sharpe signed a 21-year-lease in 2007 with an option to renew for another 21 years.
The holiday village offers 240 caravan and camping sites and 44 cabins and villas. A grand clifftop villa is priced from $999 a night and provides accommodation for eight people. Activities in the area include helicopter tours, boat cruises, bush walks, fishing, mountain biking and bushwalking.
Mr Sharpe, who invested millions of dollars into the property, said the resort needed a fresh injection of corporate capital to continue its development journey as an iconic Australian resort.
The recent sale of Lake Argyle Resort
G’Day Group, which also owns Discovery Holiday Parks, paid $31 million for the 12-hectare leasehold property overlooking Australia’s second-largest freshwater lake, surrounded by a quintessential Australian landscape of rugged cliffs and green savannah.
NASH Advisory, a corporate advisory firm headed by Tom Butler and Kieran Ellis, negotiated the leasehold sale. Attwood Marshall Lawyers acted for the Seller in this matter and worked closely with NASH Advisory, accountants, the owner and other relevant parties to finalise the deal.
The property attracted numerous offers from all the major corporates and several local mining magnates.
“It is a very pleasing result considering the challenges faced with the many WA borders closures, but the team at the G’Day Group understood the huge potential that Lake Argyle offers their business,” Mr Butler said.
Barry declared that it was a pleasure to work closely with NASH Advisory, who provided much assistance in this matter, and Mr Sharpe on the sale of Lake Argyle Resort, which resulted in a satisfying outcome for all parties.
We wish G’day Group future success as Lake Argyle Resort continues to evolve and attract thousands of visitors into the future and remain an Australian tourism icon.
The challenges and complexities of selling a high-net-worth business
A business is one of the most significant and treasured assets in any business owner’s life. When business owners are ready to sell their prized possession, the sellers often discover that they are not prepared for the intricacies of the process.
An emotional journey
Selling a business is often an emotional endeavour that has many obstacles and hurdles to overcome before the sale comes to fruition. It requires compromise from both parties involved, and every detail of the business is evaluated and scrutinised.
Creating and managing a business means having invested heart and soul in it. It takes a lot of time, work, and dedication. The business owner has lived for the company, and when parting with it, the owner can feel taken by the fear of separation and the unknown.
Thus, a business sale can be complicated to manage and invokes uncertainty and fear. The reality is that many other practical obstacles and pitfalls must be overcome to complete the effective sale.
A few of the challenges that may be faced throughout the sale’s process include:
The owner can spend a substantial commitment of time and resources during a business sale, which can disrupt the operations of the business. For owners that have decided to do it alone, often it can be of detriment and impact the value of their business. It is important to be supported by professionals throughout the sale’s process to reduce the impact of the sale on the operation of the business.
There are specific obstacles that must be considered when marketing a business.
Taking into consideration that confidentially must remain paramount, the Seller must compile a marketing package to include all vital information a buyer will need to make an accurate assessment; this is far more difficult than it might first seem.
One logistical challenge can be dealing with the volume of incoming inquiries and qualifying potential buyers.
Managing the process
If an owner receives an offer for their business, they will face new challenges. For example, the intricacies of a deal structure, negotiating the best price, legal issues, due diligence, and the management of vast amounts of documentation, just to name a few.
The process comprises many deadlines and various professionals will contribute to ensuring that compliance is achieved, and regulations are adhered to. Professional and detailed oversight is key to mitigating risk; therefore, commitment and expertise are required to handle the extensive deal management needed to finalise a transaction of this magnitude.
As you can envisage, selling a business is a highly complex, time-consuming, and emotionally draining process requiring diverse skillset and strategic planning, market intelligence and absolute commitment.
Working with governmental departments
Besides negotiating the terms and conditions of the Contracts, one of the biggest challenges in the sale of Lake Argyle was working with several different departments in WA government. It is a well-known fact government officials work in their own time frame and are not always aware of deadlines and timeframes applicable to the parties.
Conducting due diligence – assemble the right team of advisors
Building the right team of professional advisors is essential to ensure that your best interests are protected in any business transaction.
In preparation to sell a business, it is important to consider assembling a team of trusted advisors that includes:
- An experienced lawyer who practises exclusively in this area of law
- A wealth management advisor
- A business accountant
- An insurance professional
- A banker or trust officer
- An expert business appraiser
No matter who you choose to represent you, having, the right experts at your fingertips helps to ensure that you can achieve the best outcome aligned with your goals.
Selling a privately held business is no doubt a challenging and emotional undertaking. However, it’s critical to consider all aspects of the decision and to ensure you have a trusted team of experienced, specialised advisors to help you navigate the process.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – working with business owners and investors to facilitate seamless transactions
Our experienced Business and Commercial Lawyers can guide business owners and savvy investors through the complex sales process to ensure they are sufficiently informed and protected against any unfavourable outcomes. We are well-versed at facilitating high-end business acquisitions, with the Lake Argyle sale one of our most significant acquisitions yet.
To obtain professional and trusted advice regarding property and commercial matters, contact us at 1800 621 071 or speak to Property and Commercial Department Manager Jess Kimpton on direct line 07 5506 8214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!