Funds manager Lempriere Capital Partners has taken equity in Australian Farms Fund Management in a move which could see more of the combined group’s $500 million in managed funds directed towards beef production.
A joint statement issued this morning revealing that AFFM and Lempriere Capital had joined forces means the management of the iconic Cubbie Station irrigation property on the NSW/Qld border will now come under the umbrella of AFFM, the manager and trustee of the Sustainable Agriculture Fund (SAF).
The merger creates a specialised farm management player, with a combined $500 million in assets under management.
“The addition of Lempriere Capital’s networks and capabilities in the agribusiness sector are a great fit with AFFM’s institutional funds management capability,” AFFM board chair Shirley Harlock said.
The partnership with Lempriere gives AFFM greater scale, expertise and transparency along the value-chain for our commodities, which should benefit all investors in AFFM-managed products.”
AFFM is manager and trustee of the Sustainable Agriculture Fund, which owns and operates five farm aggregations throughout Australia with exposure to dairy, beef, grain and cotton.
After leading the recent acquisition of Australia’s largest farm, Cubbie Station, Lempriere Capital was appointed asset manager for the Cubbie business. The Cubbie Station aggregation is the largest cotton grower in Australia producing over 230,000 bales this season.
AFFM will now provide asset management services for Cubbie Station alongside the existing SAF operations.
As part of the new business structure, AFFM has also bolstered its executive ranks with the appointment of John McKillop to the role of Chief Executive Officer. Beef Central earlier provided details of Mr McKillop’s recent appointment to AFFM, click here to view.
Mr McKillop has extensive experience in corporate agriculture in Australia, having spent time as managing director of Clyde Agriculture and senior positions in Elders and Stanbroke Pastoral Co. He is currently a boardmember of Meat & Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia and the Primary Industries Education Foundation.
He has been a non-executive director of CS Agriculture, the owner of Cubbie Station, since February 2013.
This morning’s advice says AFFM would also acquire the services of key Lempriere Capital executives, who bring in expertise in asset management and corporate advisory services. They provide AFFM and its investors with increased market coverage and access to greater supply chain and logistics visibility.
“We are confident that the combined management team under the leadership of Mr McKillop will deliver strong operational performance for our investors, offer exciting opportunities, high calibre executives and prove the model of corporate farming in Australia,” Mrs Harlock said.
“The combination of on the ground operational capability, investment management experience and supply chain transparency allows AFFM to offer a unique combination of skills in the market place to match investor needs with investment products.
“By joining forces with Lempriere Capital, AFFM now has a critical scale to attract top-tier executives and develop processes and systems to deliver better outcomes on behalf of the investors in its investment management mandates.”
AFFM’s major shareholder, Mike Fitzpatrick, said the long-term outlook for investment in Australian agriculture was very positive and underpinned by the rising regional demand for quality Australian produce.
“With this transaction, we have the increased breadth and depth in the management team that will deliver AFFM the capability to match investor needs with investment product design, be it through a pooled unit trust such as SAF or bespoke mandates such as Cubbie Station,” he said.
“This group has the opportunity to open up this asset class to a range of institutions or private investors who previously found it difficult to invest with confidence, knowing that there is depth in the asset manager.”
Lempriere Capital will continue to invest and provide specialist corporate advisory and investment management services to clients separately from the farm funds management activities that will sit under AFFM. The Lempriere Group has a 150 year commitment to Australian agricultural investment and experience with large scale acquisitions and agricultural enterprises.
“Globally we are seeing increasing interest in agriculture as an asset class. Mike Fitzpatrick was a pioneer of the infrastructure asset class in Australia and by working together we believe that AFFM can lead the acceptance of agriculture as an asset class in Australia,” a spokesman said.
“We have put in place a management team of the highest calibre to deliver this vision. This is an opportunity to encourage Australian investors to invest in Australian agriculture.”
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