Property

NT pastoral station owner says he plans to contest receivership claims

Linda Rowley, 06/06/2024

The owner of a number of Northern Territory pastoral stations says he plans to contest claims in a media report that he has “crash landed after his main companies were put into liquidation”.

An aerial image of the Maryfield station homestead complex, and  large-scale intensive cattle feeding facility (top right).

The Australian newspaper has reported ‘Wealthcheck and The Edge firms have been placed in the hands of duelling receivers after banks and the Tax Office called in outstanding loans’.

This week, on ASIC’s published notices, the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation filed an application for the Wealthcheck Management Pty Ltd to be wound up with a Federal Court hearing set for June 14.

However, the listing shows that only one of Wealthcheck’s entities are involved in the upcoming legal proceedings.

It is understood Wealthcheck’s NT’s property portfolio, including Maryfield and Limbuyna Stations, Benmara and Conways are held by one of a number of entities (Wonga Ag) within the Wealthcheck group and isn’t impacted by the ATO application.

Sydney-based investor, Sam Mitchell, told Beef Central today he is seeking legal advice and is unable to comment on the claims made by the Australian newspaper article. He told Beef Central he welcomes an open discussion and will respond in the coming days.

Wealthcheck

Wealthcheck Funds Management is an investment and property manager that sources opportunities to invest in the Australian agricultural property sector.

It operates a number of cattle breeding enterprises, as well as broadacre and horticultural properties (growing cotton, wheat, sugar cane, almonds, avocadoes and wine grapes) across Australia.

The Sydney-based fund manager attempted his first foray into the Northern Territory market in 2022 by becoming the preferred bidder for Brett Blundy’s 10,034sq km Walhallow Aggregation.

The 3580sq km Walhallow Station and 6454sq km Creswell Downs are situated on the northern end of the Barkly Tableland, east of Daly Waters, 994km from Darwin Port and 1508km from Townsville.

After failing to settle the contract of sale (in what would have been the largest single cattle property transaction in Australian history), Mr Mitchell turned his attention to the extensive NT grazing properties Maryfield and Limbunya.

The two stations were offered to the market in November 2020 and expected to achieve around $150m.

When they failed to sell, the sale process was deferred, with agent Olivia Thompson explaining inspections had been hampered by COVID restrictions, with several potential international buyers prevented from competing.

Maryfield and Limbuyna were scheduled to return to the market the following year (2023), however it is understood Ms Thompson received an unsolicited approach from Mr Mitchell.

In September 2022, the Sydney-based investor teamed up with Garry Edwards from the Brisbane-based AAM Investment Group and paid $175m on a walk-in walk-out basis, including around 50,000 head of Brahman cattle.

The partnership saw Wealthcheck purchase the land component and AAM take on the hands-on running of the cattle business under a lease arrangement.

In an unexpected turn of events, Maryfield Station and Limbunya Station returned to the market in February this year.

During his brief ownership, Mr Mitchell gained approval for a significant Human Induced Regeneration of a Permanent Ever-Aged Native Forest (HIR) carbon project across both assets.

Despite rumours of financial troubles, Beef Central was told Mr Mitchell was keen to test the new frontier of Australia’s carbon market.

It’s important to note that LAWD agents responsible for selling Maryfield and Limbuyna say this week’s news will not impact the sale process.

Other NT investments

Conways Station

In October 2023, Sam Mitchell added the picturesque Conways Station to his growing NT cattle property portfolio, paying $14.5 million bare in a joint venture with Viridios Capital.

Located 180km from Katherine, the 139,200ha runs around 5000 head of cattle, including more than 3000 breeders, turning off around 1500 head a year.

It also has a large wild buffalo population that is professionally mustered and together with the cattle are sold to domestic and export markets.

Conways Station participates in the Carbon Farming Initiative, with proactive farming practices recognised under the CFI to reduce emissions.

Benmara Station

In May 2023, Mr Mitchell paid $40m bare for Benmara Station, a large breeding property on the Northern Territory’s Barkly Tableland owned by prominent Mungindi-based producer Malcolm Harris.

The 451,200ha are situated east of Cresswell and Newcastle Waters, towards the Queensland border, and estimated to run more than 20,000 head of cattle.

The staggering $40m sale price, described by some industry experts as extraordinary, was on a land only basis and did not include any cattle.

Sam Mitchell background

Sam Mitchell founded Wealthcheck in 2005. Prior to that he was a commodities futures adviser and trader for Elders Risk Management. In this role he provided risk management advisory services to producers and processors in the agricultural industry.

Sam has also worked as a financial advisor for Commonwealth Securities offering wealth creation solutions to the bank’s high net worth clients, as well as numerous capital raisings.

In 2013, he began developing and actively managing greenfield agricultural investments for large, well known international institutional investors offering property acquisition, leasing, property development, water entitlement acquisition and operational management.

In recent years, Wealthcheck’s environmental initiatives include a real focus on carbon.

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.

Comments

Get Property news headlines emailed to you -
FREE!