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Big money and exotic locales: Peter Munk’s real estate adventures

Barrick Gold chairman Peter Munk attends the company's annual general meeting in Toronto on May 2, 2012.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

For someone who's described himself as "not a real estate guy," Peter Munk has built an extensive career in the property market. Here are some of his notable ventures:


Mr. Munk's holding company acquired real estate firm Trizec Corp. for $750-million in 1994, followed by an aggressive buying spree that included the purchase of Chicago's Sears Tower. In 2002, the company renamed itself Trizec Properties and became a real estate income trust. Four years later, it was purchased for $4.8-billion (U.S.) by Brookfield Properties Corp. and buyout firm Blackstone Group. At the time, Trizec's portfolio included 61 U.S. office towers. Mr. Munk netted more than $320-million (Canadian) from the sale.

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Mr. Munk is no stranger to ventures in far-flung locations. He and business partner David Gilmour built a hotel empire in the South Pacific, with financing from a Saudi Arabian arms dealer. Their portfolio included the hotel chain Travelodge in Australia; at one point, their company was the largest hotel operator in the Australasia region. In 1981, Mr. Munk and his partners sold Southern Pacific Hotel Corp. for $130-million (U.S.).


One of Mr. Munk's most ambitious projects was a $400-million development near the Giza pyramids in Egypt. A contract was signed in 1974 with the Egyptian government's tourism agency, and the project received backing from then-president Anwar Sadat. The tourist mecca was to include everything from hotels to nightclubs, but it came under significant protest in the Egyptian parliament and among archeologists. In 1978, Mr. Sadat axed the project.


Mr. Munk has a vision for Tivat, a coastal town in Montenegro: He wants to make it the next Monaco. He and a group of high-profile investors are transforming the industrial port into a luxury marina/playground for the superrich known as Porto Montenegro, where weekly rates for apartments range between €850 and €10,000 ($1,100 to $13,000 Canadian). In 2008, Mr. Munk said he was investing between €50-million and €75-million of his own money in the project. To execute his vision, he closed the local naval base, a decision that drew thousands of residents into the streets of Tivat in protest. His response is that development will bring prosperity to the town.


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Mr. Munk, a native of Budapest, has been a major investor in TriGranit Development Corp., a Hungarian real-estate development company with properties across Eastern Europe. In 2008, The Globe reported that Mr. Munk owned about 18 per cent of TriGranit, which handled construction at Porto Montenegro.

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