Agribusiness

STAG Beef still alive as private venture, says De Lacy

James Nason, 25/09/2014
killarney

Cattle in yards surrounding a cutting arena and granstand at Killarney Station in the VRD. The station was bought in March by the Jumbuck Pastoral Company.

Despite failing to secure capital in time to buy four northern cattle stations earlier this year, the STAG Beef venture is still alive and in the market for cattle breeding country, chairman Keith De Lacy told Beef Central this week.

The proponents of STAG Beef – or Staples and Agricultural Global Beef Investment – had planned to build a large northern cattle property portfolio funded via an Initial Public Offering earlier this year.

The group had hoped to raise $70 million via the public float and had signed contracts to buy Killarney Station and neighbouring Birrimba in the Victoria River District, and Willeroo and Scott Creek stations near Katherine.

However, delays in the equity-raising process prevented STAG Beef from paying the required non-refundable deposits in time to consummate the contracts and secure the properties.

That left the door open for another buyer to move in, and the McLachlan family’s Jumbuck Pastoral Company seized the opportunity, purchasing Killarney after direct negotiations with Dutch shipping magnate Peter Vroon, a major shareholder of the station’s owner Wallco Pastoral Company. Unconfirmed reports placed the purchase value ‘in excess of’ $35m.

Mr De Lacy told Beef Central this week that the inability to secure Killarney, the station around which STAG Beef’s prospectus had been centred, had ended its IPO plans.

However he said the same proponents were still seeking investment as a private venture to buy northern cattle breeding and growing stations in the first stage of the value cycle.

“We’re still alive and we’re still looking at opportunities and we do have some strong backers now,” Mr De Lacy said.

“But initially, if we do move, it wouldn’t be an IPO to commence with.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm from off shore in particular – but not only off-shore – to invest in Australian agriculture and beef

“It is about creating the right kind of vehicle.

“It may morph eventually into an IPO, but initially it would be large investors.”

Mr De Lacy said he preferred not to discuss further details when asked what level of investment STAG Beef had secured investors or whether it had specific properties in its sights. However he added that he hoped to have a good story to talk about in relation to STAG Beef soon.

In addition to Mr De Lacy, other names linked to the venture during its IPO process earlier this year included managing director, former Deloitte partner Alain Pillay, and operations general manager Geoff Wagstaff, a long-time senior manager with Australian Agricultural Company.

Mr De Lacy is also the chair of the mooted $2 billion Integrated Food and Energy Developments (IFED) irrigation scheme and cattle processing enterprise on the Gilbert River in North Queensland.

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