One of Australia’s major property groups Mirvac stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars from the Brisbane flood, but so far there hasn’t been a peep from the company or a query from the ASX or ASIC.

In fact, investors seem to have ignored the potential losses with the shares trading at $1.30 today, steady on yesterday’s close and despite front-page news of one troubled development in Brisbane and its clients. That’s despite having nearly $400 million of unsold units in the three affected developments.

Another listed developer, FKP Properties, has about $160 million of unsold units at stake in a flooded development at Milton.

According to a story in today’s Australian, Mirvac is the most affected property group so far known from the Brisbane floods.

But while the thrust of the story, that Brisbane rents could very well jump because of the impact of the floods, the real story is the damage that could be done to Mirvac.

It has three projects in Brisbane that were flooded and where there are a substantial number of units unsold.

One is called the Montague in West end where 424 units with an average price of $550,000 are unsold on a development site that is under water.

That’s a rather nasty $230 million at stake.

The Pier at Newstead, where 43 units remain unsold, with an average price of $3.1 million (over $120 million). The paper says the car park flooded and the unsold units are looking to be settled in the next two months.

And the third is Farringford at Tennyson (which featured on the front page of today’s paper) on the site of the old power station, which flooded in the 1974 floods. The Australian says there are 47 unsold units with an average price of $1 million. The paper says the ground floor units, basement, car park and tennis courts flooded.

The listed FKP properties is another developer with a problem. The paper says it has 230 unsold units (average price $700,000, or a total of more than $160 million) at Milton. The site office was affected, according to The Australian’s report. No construction has started.

The listed Australand development company has a development at Kangaroo Point where 36 units (average price $1.01 million) are unsold. The paper says the hole for the basement filled with water.

Mirvac and other developers might well argue that it is too early to say anything, but one thing is certain, with damaging publicity on the front page of newspapers and in other media reports, along with the known locations, present valuations on the unsold units will not be met.

The selling price will be discounted to move the unsold units, meaning possible losses, and Mirvac could face legal action and other costs in the future from unhappy owners.

As well some buyers who are in the process of settling could abandon the deals and get back their money, meaning more delays, costs and possible legal bills.

The Australian claims some Brisbane property agents are talking about 50% discounts. If that is the case, then Mirvac is looking at a nasty $200 million or so loss on the value of those unsold units.

And irony of ironies, it was only in last week’s Weekend Australian that Mirvac chairman James Mackenzie was the subject of a glowing profile about how he had weathered various storms. Now he has another one, but so far he and his company have been silent, perhaps hoping it will be all right when the water goes away.

No it won’t.

Peter Fray

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