A MAJOR western Queensland property and cattle deal which settled yesterday has projected Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting further up the ranks in terms of Australia’s, and the world’s largest Wagyu cattle producers.
In an off-market transaction, Hancock Prospecting has bought a portfolio of three quality improved scrub country properties in the Roma and Mitchell districts in western Queensland, totalling around 21,000ha, plus between 6000 to 7000 Wagyu cows and calves. The vendor was pioneer Australian Wagyu breeder Wally Rea.
No price has been disclosed, but is well above $40 million in value, reliable sources said. Hancock provided no response when approached by Beef Central for clarification yesterday, understood to be bound by non-disclosure clauses.
The transaction is understood to be the largest-ever for a land acquisition in Queensland’s Maranoa region, and is easily the largest in Australia, and likely the world, for a single Wagyu cattle herd purchase.
The properties include highly-improved brigalow scrub soil blocks – Hollyrood and South Maffra near Roma, plus Forestvale near Mitchell. Mr Rea has owned Forestvale for around 20 years.
Ranking biggest Wagyu producers
So where does Ms Rinehart’s latest, and largest Wagyu cattle investment rank her business in terms of size, among Australian and global Wagyu producers?
Within its Wagyu breeding programs, the Australian Agricultural Co is understood to have around 9000 head of Fullblood and purebred Wagyu breeding females on its books. That does not include much larger numbers of F1 and F2 Wagyu (50-75pc infused) crossbreds being bred on the company’s northern properties.
Beef Central’s estimate is that Gina Rinehart now controls Fullblood/Purebred Wagyu numbers of at least 12,000 breeders, and more than 15,000 branded cattle in total. Questions remain over the ‘category’ that the cattle bought this week from Wally Rea fall into. They were described, conservatively, in the transaction as ‘purebred’ (i.e. bred-up from other breeds), rather than ‘Fullblood’ (direct descendent of Japanese Wagyu sire and dam), although some claim there are significant Fullblood cattle among them. While there is little, if any difference in marbling performance between Fullblood and purebred Wagyu, certain markets require Fullblood cattle only, to be described as ‘Wagyu beef.’
The 12,000 head breeder figure attributed to Hancock Prospecting includes natural organic growth in herd numbers, plus the collection of Fullblood/purebred herds Ms Rinehart has put together over the past two years (Greenhills, Blackmore, Rea, etc).
It means Hancock can now lay claim to being Australia’s, and arguably the world’s largest Fullblood/Purebred Wagyu producer.
This week’s Roma and Mitchell acquisitions have highlighted the absolute dominance of Gina Rinehart as the biggest investor in grazing land and cattle in rural Australia this year.
$1 billion investment in ag-related assets
Recently restored as Australia’s richest person with the elevation in fortunes in the iron ore mining industry, it’s said that Ms Rinehart has invested around $1 billion in rural/agriculture-related assets worldwide in the past 12 months. That figure includes the Kidman joint venture purchase, and $400 million invested in a potash (polyhalite) agricultural fertiliser mining development in the UK.
As outlined in Wednesday’s final weekly property review for the year, since January Ms Rinehart has bought a string of Australian beef related assets, including:
- Her 66pc stake in S.Kidman & Co, together with venture partner Shanghai CRED, for $365m
- The 171,000ha NT cattle breeding property Willeroo Station for $33.05m WIWO (or $16m excluding stock, plant and equipment). The sale included 21,000 branded Brahman cattle.
- 147,000ha Aroona Station, near Katherine, paying $24m WIWO (or $13.5m land only). The sale included 15,000 head of cattle.
- Maydan feedlot near Warwick
- This week’s Rea assets.
With this week’s completion of purchase of the Wally Rea assets in the Maranoa, Ms Rinehart now holds outright or joint-ownership interest in 25 pastoral or feedlot assets across Queensland, the NT, WA, SA and NSW.
The sale of the Maranoa properties means pioneer Wagyu breeder Wally Rea has substantially re-shaped his cattle investments in the past six months, exiting southwestern Queensland and purchasing substantial grazing assets in the New England district (see earlier report). He still retains his Central Queensland ‘home’ properties, based on The Overflow, near Marlborough.
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