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Chairman of the Board explains why AMA sold its house

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The AMA has sold its headquarters in Canberra to EG Funds management for $15.6 million. The contract was settled in March and the new owners have taken possession. The AMA retains naming rights of AMA House and remains the primary tenant of the building.

EG plan to invest in a comprehensive energy efficiency upgrade of the building.

Dr Iain Dunlop, Chair of the AMA Board, sat down with Australian Medicine to discuss the reasoning behind the decision to sell AMA House.

“The idea to sell was more concerned with husbanding members’ funds,” Dr Dunlop said.

“It is a relatively old building and it would be too expensive for us to make it a modern Class A building. We are far too heavy into property. Real estate is not our core business and we were far too reliant on rental incoming.

“We will keep our pre-eminent position in the building, with naming rights. It was less important to have a fixed building – especially in this digital world.

“Having gone through the exercise of selling AMPCo in Sydney a couple of years ago, we then turned our attention to these offices.

“The Investment Committee of the Board decided that the AMA should not be heavy into property. Now is a good time and it has proved to be an excellent time to sell. We got a good price and the people who bought it are prepared to spend on it and upgrade it. Make it the best B building in the Parliamentary Triangle.

“It is great for us as tenants and for our staff.

“There are people who say you must not sell the farm, but the opposing view is to stick with what you are good at.”

With the sale of AMA House, the organisation loses much of the space it had occupied in the building.

While retaining naming rights and being the primary tenant, the AMA has lost access to the other floors it occupied in the building.

Level three was where the Federal Council met quarterly. Conference rooms will now be rented in nearby hotels for the meetings.

“The unexpected thing for many of our Federal Councillors was that we were giving up our third floor and meeting space,” Dr Dunlop said.

“By any commercial measure, it wouldn’t be reasonable to keep it – to rent back that floor – for the minimal use that we make of it.

“The sale was announced at the 2017-18 AGM and there was minimal objection and minimal comment.

“Our presence is still in Canberra and but for losing our occasional presence on the third floor of the building, it would appear that nothing has changed.”

There is one other small inconvenience the sale of AMA House has caused.

“We now have to find more space on the 4th floor for photos and name plaques of all our distinguished Past Presidents and award winners,” Dr Dunlop smiled.

CHRIS JOHNSON

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