Agribusiness: Goodfellow departs Rifa for new role with Canadian pension fund

Jon Condon, 15/01/2018

EXPERIENCED agribusiness executive David Goodfellow has resigned from his position as head of Chinese-owned Rifa Salutary’s Australian operations to become chief executive of a new Australian subsidiary of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

David Goodfellow

Ontario Teachers is Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan with C$180 billion in net assets, invested across a wide asset mix.

Mr Goodfellow will head the group’s newly-formed Australia subsidiary Auston Corporation, which plans to expand from its initial Australian investment base in tree crops into other forms of agriculture.

Mr Goodfellow had led Rifa Salutary since its establishment in Australia 2014, when it purchased 2500ha Victorian grazing property, Blackwood, near Penshurst. Another four showcase large-scale cattle and sheep grazing properties properties were then added, including 4400ha Kulwin Park near Wycheproof in Western Victoria; 28,300ha Cooplacurripa near Nowendoc in Northern NSW; 9100ha Middlebrook near Nundle in Northern NSW, and 4600ha Ashleigh near Warialda in Northern NSW.

The five properties formed an integrated production-based supply chain comprising 22,000 Angus cattle, up to 22,000 sheep and 4000ha of broadacre cropping. The operation is protected from rainfall variability through its geographic spread of properties in Western Victorian and Northern NSW, with each property specialising in either breeding or fattening livestock but having the capability to do both if required.

Solid foundation

Rifa chairman, Jie Wu said Mr Goodfellow had built the company from start-up, making ‘good choices’ in purchasing valuable properties for the company, as well as developing a strong management team.

“David has set a solid foundation for the continuing growth of the company,” Mr Wu said.

“Working to establish Rifa Salutary has been one of the great privileges of my career in this industry,” Mr Goodfellow said in a statement. “When I joined Rifa, I wanted to learn much more about the role of the Chinese in the future of our industry, and I have done that. I am grateful for the opportunity that was given to me and I am proud of the business our team has built over the last three and a half years for our parent company Zhejiang Rifa Holding Group.”

Rifa Salutary’s current chief financial officer Phil Beale, who spent some years in the equivalent role with the Australian Agricultural Co, will step in as Rifa’s interim chief executive.

Mr Beale had an extensive background with more than 30 years’ experience in senior roles within the agriculture industry, and was well-suited to lead the company until a replacement is appointed, Mr Wu said.

Mr Goodfellow’s move into the Ontario Teachers role aligns with his past work history in establishing large agri-businesses in Australia, having previously played lead roles in the creation of Mutual Trust for the Baillieu family, Paraway Pastoral Co for Macquarie Bank and then Rifa Salutary for Zhejiang Rifa Holding Group.

His role in Ontario Teachers will see him ‘significantly expand’ the fund’s investments in Australia over the next five years, as well as overseeing existing Australian investments.

About Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan, with C$180 billion in net assets. The defined-benefit plan, which is fully funded, invests and administers the pensions of the province of Ontario’s 318,000 active and retired teachers. It holds a diverse global portfolio of assets, 80pc of which are managed in-house, and has earned an annualised gross rate of return of 10.1pc since the plan’s founding in 1990. The asset mix includes equities, debt, natural resources including agriculture, and real assets (real estate and infrastructure).

Ontario Teachers and its Australian subsidiary AustOn Corp, have already made significant investment in the Australian tree-cropping industry. In 2014, it bought Aroona Farms, a major grower of almonds at Robinvale (Vic) and Renmark (SA), comprising 1600ha of mature almonds (5000t/annum) and 840ha new trees being planted. The sale price was reported as around A$115 million.

In December the group completed the purchase of Australia’s second largest avocado grower, Jasper Farms at Busselton (WA) comprising 340ha avocados (7000t/annum). Financial press reported that sale as worth A$180 million.

The strategy of Ontario’s Australian subsidiary Auston Corp, is to expand the investment base into at least two additional agricultural sectors in Australia, which may include the livestock industry, broadacre cropping or other forms of horticulture. An investment in the extensive grazing industry has not been ruled out.

Less than 1pc by value of the fund’s investments are currently located in Australia.

  • David Goodfellow will be a keynote speaker at the AICD conference on Foreign Investment in Agribusiness to be held at the AICD Business Centre in Melbourne on Monday 12 February. He has been a strong advocate of using foreign capital to develop local industries and communities in each of his previous agribusiness roles.




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  1. bruce coulthard, 24/02/2020

    I cannot see why anyone would be proud to sell land to the Chinese. unpatriotic . I saw cattle from Cooplacurripa at Wingham campdraft, although glad to have them in a bad year, the quality was a disgrace. Runty, run out rubbish heifers they were. I asked the locals where they come from and their story. They said a Chinese owned place owned them. Say no more. I cannot see how our farmers benefit from the clowns buying our land , ports (Darwin) or any other enterprise. It has a short term gain and a long term negative affect. It makes land prices expensive which is a bad thing, yes BAD. If land was cheap farmers could make their repayments easier and no struggle. Land sales need to be regulated to people who have work on the land for ten years. This would bring back the family farm to where it was.
    No city investors ,no foreign investors (apart from big stations up north) and no hobby farmers. This open slather approach is not working, its not working and politicians have no idea. What’s better, 100 farms milking 100 cows each or 10 farms milking 1000 cows ? politicians will say the latter, they’re wrong. Its the 100 small farms. They support 100 families, 100 families shopping in the town , schools, football teams and so on. 10 farms supports some fat bastard in the city get even fatter and a few locals. The same amount of milk is produced. Our country is very marginal in soil and reliable rainfall with the strip up the east coast being the most reliable rainfall, the rest is good but seasonal. We don’t need rich people buying up land and not producing, if they want to own a farm they should go and work on the land for ten years.
    With this system those growing up in the bush could afford their own farm and it would have to be huge because they wouldn’t have this mountainous debt to pay off. They could make a living out of their commodities not buying and selling their farm. The land would not be the commodity. Land is not a toy ,it’s serious stuff and doesn’t need unskilled people buying it and trying to run it with no knowledge. They make terrible bosses. Like those Chinese at Cooplacurripa , they joined their weaner heifers, how stupid is that ? they lost 85% . They don’t listen. We don’t need that culture in our country. Family farms is what we need in this country.

  2. Twaha Kayongo, 23/11/2018

    Would wish to have cooperation with M/s Goodfellow onto Entry in East Africa

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