CONTRACTS have been exchanged on four additional Hancock Agriculture and S. Kidman & Co northern property assets as part of the companies’ selldown process.
Phoenix Farm, near Katherine, Innamincka Station and Macumba Station have been sold to Crown Point Pastoral, according to an update released by Elders over the weekend.
Although Innamincka and Macumba were not originally intended to be part of the Hancock/Kidman divestment process, they received significant interest from multiple parties which allowed a timely sale to occur, Elders said.
Completion of the sales would occur once approval from the relevant pastoral land regulator in South Australia is received.
The purchase price and specific terms for each sale were not disclosed.
“The sale of these properties is consistent with Hancock Agriculture’s strategy of divesting properties where it has already invested to improve them by focussing on specific areas, including improved animal welfare and employee safety, the use of technology and innovation and genetic improvements across the herds,” Hancock said in the statement.
The company’s focus on animal welfare and that ‘happy healthy cattle are the best cattle’ had driven a change in culture in the business, with staff reminder signs now displayed across all of the properties reflective of how the business operates.
The latest sale contracts follow the sale of several other properties completed last year, as reported on Beef Central.
Each had been improved across a range of areas implemented while under the ownership of Hancock Agriculture and S. Kidman & Co, and had been purchased by Australians who are experienced in cattle operations and Australian agribusiness, the summary said.
- Ruby Plains and Sturt Creek Stations, bought by Crown Point Pastoral, a joint venture between the Oldfield and Costello families with significant existing beef production interests in central Australia
- Aroona Station, bought by the DiGiorgio family which has substantial wine and grazing enterprises in the south east of South Australia
- Nerrima Station, bought by the Emmanuel family based in Western Australia, which has historically held significant pastoral holdings in Western Australia
- Willeroo Station, via Katherine, bought by Brett Cattle Co, a family business with substantial existing Northern Australia cattle operations and provider of veterinary services to the Northern Australia livestock industry.
The sales listed have received all necessary statutory approvals and have settled, with formal handover to the new owners having occurred, Hancock’s briefing said.
“Significant investment was also made to improve the productivity and condition of the stations, including developing and expanding water infrastructure, which better positions the properties to operate during periods of low rainfall, improved employee safety and cattle handling equipment,” it said.
“Shade areas have been installed across stock yards and water troughs, improving animal welfare, and investment made in widespread digital UHF systems combined with expanded wireless network capabilities, improving staff communication and data collection and analysis, and helpful also for employee safety.
“This investment is reflective of the approach across all of Hancock Agriculture’s properties and its willingness to invest in Australian agriculture.
The sale of the stations listed above would assist in providing further capital to focus on purchasing and improving other properties for its agricultural operations, the Hancock statement said.
Another property in Queensland with water assets had already been purchased by Hancock Agriculture and several other opportunities were being actively considered, it said.
Elders Real Estate executive general manager Tom Russo said the sale process had drawn interest from a global field of investors, noting that ultimately all the successful buyers were established, experienced Australian agribusiness operators.
“When considering the structuring of the sale campaign, a key priority of Hancock was to ensure that all potential buyers were given the opportunity to visit the properties. The high quality of these properties after investment by Hancock and its management under its ownership was evident in the level of interest received and the feedback from multiple parties that visited the properties, praising the status of the properties and the condition of the cattle.
This positive interest was reflected in a strong level of offers being received, with the result of several Australian farming families having been successful in acquiring these stations and expanding their enterprises.
“It is exciting to see such a strong level of confidence and willingness to invest in the future of northern Australian beef production from such successful and well-credentialled Australian family owned businesses,” Mr Russo said.
A Hancock Agriculture spokesperson said the result was an excellent outcome which had ensured that the stations will continue to be operated under good, experienced stewardship by quality industry participants.
Riveren, Inverway still on the market
Hancock properties remaining for sale comprise Riveren and Inverway Stations in the Victoria River District of the NT.
These adjoining properties were developed by the Underwood family which moved to the NT in the 1950s. Typical of the region, the properties feature open black soil plains with a variety of pastures and grasses in the red country. Both enjoy an abundance of reliable water. Hancock bought the 550,000ha aggregation including around 40,000 head of cattle in 2016 from Indonesia’s Japfa Santori.
Since acquisition, Hancock Agriculture had invested significantly in improving all infrastructure, with a particular focus on water storage and distribution, cattle yards, cattle handling infrastructure and connectivity and communications systems, as well as improving the herd through genetic refinement and management and changing the culture to focus on animal welfare.
“Our vendor (Hancock) remains flexible in its approach to the Riveren and Inverway aggregation sale, which would also function well if operated separately,” Mr Russo said.
There are several investors currently engaged in the sale process who are motivated to acquire all or part of the aggregation, should a lease arrangement be agreed with a suitably qualified counterparty over all or part of the combined stations, he said.
“The assets therefore remain available to purchase, either as a single property or separately,” Mr Russo said.
The herd on Riveren and Inverway had performed well this season and reflected the investment made by Hancock Agriculture, together with the excellent season.
“While our vendor remains welcoming of proposals and motivated to complete a sale, they are not pressed to do so,” he said.
Hancock Agriculture said it intends to retain and grow its remaining substantial portfolio, which includes operations in Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, west Australia and the Northern Territory.
“Across these operations, Hancock will continue to be an Australian agricultural industry leader in the application of innovative technology, and in identifying and incorporating ways to continue to improve employee safety and animal welfare. Hancock will continue to invest in its numerous cattle stations, maintaining its management basis, “happy healthy cattle are the best cattle” and strategically targeting technical and other improvements,” the company statement said.
Hancock’s east coast Wagyu operations, which currently form the largest Fullblood and Purebred Wagyu herd in the world, would continue to grow through additional production and broadacre cropping properties.
The company’s multiple branded premium beef product lines, including 2GR Wagyu are sold both domestically and internationally.
Through its majority ownership in the iconic S. Kidman and Co Pty Ltd, there is a focus on improving productivity through genetic improvement and expanding its backgrounding and feeding capacity to deliver a range of branded beef grain fed and grass-fed products.
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