Bendigo to sell Australia’s oldest stock exchange

Bendigo Miners' statue 2
Bendigo’s council is seeking sympathetic private owners for its heritage money pit.

The sale of entire stock exchanges and metals markets is usually the source of intense investor and regulatory interest, but that hasn’t stopped the City of Greater Bendigo from trying to put what it says is Australia’s oldest official trading pit on the block for sale.

The central Victorian regional local government has revealed it’s looking for a sympathetic and historically sensitive new owner for the Bendigo Mining Exchange ‑ built in 1872 – after saving the heritage building from the ravages of decay and neglect.

“The City has rescued this building from sliding into an unrepairable state and has invested a considerable amount of human and financial resources to get it to the stage that it is now a viable option to be returned to private ownership,” a report from the council says.

Bendigo’s councillors are meeting on 12th February and will asked to approve of the sale of the heritage facility through expressions of interest.

“The final stage of the City’s stewardship role is to sell the building to an owner who is capable of delivering the project to the standard that this building deserves,” the announcement from Bendigo City Council said.

“Given the amount of private sector interest that has recently been shown, it is likely that this will now become a reality.”

Bendigo’s search for a sympathetic buyer to maintain its Victorian-era treasure is reflective of a wider move by councils and local governments trying to attract private sector interest in keeping historic buildings and facilities alive and functioning as an integral part of the town’s economic and social fabric.

A big and obvious question is whether the sale could now attract the interest of some of Australia’s larger than life mining magnates that have spent big on follies ranging from dinosaur-themed resorts and life-size ocean liner replicas to investments in media.

The central Victorian city is certainly no stranger to finding innovative solutions to financial challenges, having been the birthplace of Bendigo Bank that has strongly pursued community financing in regional areas as a way to competitively differentiate itself from Australia’s Big Four retail banking institutions.

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