Meriton’s Harry Triguboff speaks exclusively to “The Bill”

01 Aug 2006 – Domain.com.au feature article from The Bill

The following article appeared in August 2006 on the domain.com.au website.

Interview with Harry Triguboff

Author: Tyron Hyde, The Washington Brown Group
Date: August 1, 2006

Billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff has transformed Sydney. His developments brought thousands of people back to live in the CBD in the 1990s, with the 78-storey World Square tower as his masterpiece.

Q: Where was your first development? What was it and was it profitable?

Smith Street, Tempe. It was eight two-bedroom apartments. It cost 17,000 pounds and then sold for 26,000 pounds. It was very profitable. And I was very happy with this effort.

Q: Over the next year where would you put your money? Industrial, commercial or residential?

All in residential because I’ll always be assured of a tenant. Due to under-supply, rents continue to rise and eventually the prices will sky rocket.

Q: If you were given $20,000 to invest today, where would you spend it?

I would buy mining shares.

Q: Of the many projects you have been involved in, what is your favourite? And why?

I love them all. But I must always say World Tower because it’s the tallest and the most beautiful. I did my best in all I have built. One must understand a lot of time is wasted on democracy and a lot of beauty is sacrificed.

Q: What’s the best decision you have ever made as a developer?

When I bought the ACI site.

Q: What is the hardest thing about being a developer in Australia?

The hardest thing about being a developer in Australia is to cope with the fact we have no people and we are not making an effort to make Australia a bigger place.

The second problem is that we have this great fear of inflation when we are the cheapest country in the world.

And the third problem is that we have a horrible bureaucracy with crazy rules.

Q: We often hear about big projects coming undone because of “cost blow-outs”. How do successful developers contain costs?

In my opinion one person should be the developer and the builder. And if costs blow up in the building site then there is still profit to be made as a developer.

On the other hand if the market goes down, then there is still the profit that the builder could make. But by being only a builder or only a developer one could get into a bit of trouble.

Q: Put aside planning restrictions, heritage orders and so on: as a developer, what site in Australia would you love to get your hands on and what would you like to build there?

I love the South Sydney area. And I have picked up the best sites over there and I am very glad that I’ve done them, and if the market becomes better then I have my eyes on another site not far from South Sydney, which I will probably buy. But it will have to wait until the market improves.

Q: What have been the major influences in your life as a developer?

Major influences in my life as a developer are the way we deal with the unions, the way we deal with the labour force, the way we deal with people in general, with the banks. To be a developer you have to be quite clever in dealing with all those different bodies. And they influence your life and you are sort of never the same again.

Q: Please finish this statement: “If I hadn’t been a property developer, I would have been …”

A historian. But I’m glad that I am a property developer and not a historian because I make things and a historian only talks about things.