AA Co adds La Belle, Welltree properties in abattoir integration move

Beef Central, 23/10/2013


The Australian Agricultural Co has added to its Northern Territory land assets, agreeing to terms to purchase former RM Williams Agricultural Holdings properties, La Belle Downs and Welltree Stations southwest of Darwin.

AA Co will pay $27.1 million for the adjoining properties adjacent to the Litchfield National Park, which cover 99,400 hectares, including large areas of heavy-carrying marine plain country.

The properties, with a carrying capacity of between 20,000 to 25,000 adult cattle, were sold bare of cattle but inclusive of plant and equipment. They have been used in the past for backgrounding live export cattle and breeding, but will play a supply chain management role under AA Co ownership servicing the company’s proposed Darwin abattoir.

Labelle and Welltree are close to, but do not adjoin Tipperary, totalling 3434sq km, which AA Co operates under a long-term lease. 

La Belle and Welltree Downs were listed for sale in July after owner RM Williams Agricultural Holdings was placed into receivership. The properties were marketed by receivers PPB Advisory through real estate agency Colliers.

RM Williams Agricultural Holdings bought the aggregation for a reported $70 million in 2009 from North Queensland cattleman, Peter Camm. The two stations were bought to be used as carbon emission trade-offs for industrial projects.

The purchase price was regarded as extraordinarily generous at the time, given that Peter Camm bought La Belle and Welltree for just $13.5 million four years earlier in 2005.

AA Co acting chief executive officer Craig White said the purchase continued AA Co’s strategy of deploying capital to northern Australia.

“While the land size is relatively small, the purchase is strategically significant for the company,” he said in an AA Co statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

“La Belle Downs and Welltree are just 180km from Darwin and will be complementary to the company’s Darwin beef processing facility, which is under construction and scheduled to begin operation in the second half of next year,” Mr White said.

The properties would help to ensure continuity of supply to the facility through both wet and dry seasons.

The acquisition is conditional on regulatory approvals.


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