Nine is selling the birthplace of Australian free-to-air commercial TV for $147.5 million

Bruce Gyngell, father of current Nine CEO David Gyngell, launching TV in Australia in 1956. Screengrab: YouTube / watvhistory

Nine Entertainment today signed an agreement to sell its Willoughby site in Sydney for $147.5 million to Hong Kong investor Euro Properties.

The 2.9 hectare property has been used for nearly 60 years to make television shows.

The deal, scheduled to be completed in two years, is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval. Euro Properties is a boutique firm specialising in the development of prime residential and mixed-use projects.

Nine will be able to remain on the site, under a lease, for up to a further three years.

Cash proceeds after tax are expected to be around $135 million, with pre-tax annual lease costs of about $10 million.

Nine COO Simon Kelly said: “The move from the birthplace of Australian free-to-air television is a significant milestone for Nine.

“Our relocation to state of the art facilities will enable us to further optimise our operations as we evolve our business model in a digital world.”

The Willoughby studios first broadcast in 1956. The first person to appear on screen was Bruce Gyngell, the father of the current chief executive of Nine, David Gyngell.

Nine earlier this year sold its live events and ticketing business Nine Live to Affinity Equity Partners for $640 million.

Like all broadcasters Nine has been struggling to maintain profit margins in a softening advertising market.

Earnings for the 2015 financial year are expected to be between $285 million to $290 million, down from previous guidance of $311 million.

The full year results are due to be released next week.

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