BEEF Central understands that contracts were signed before Christmas on six of the seven grazing properties being offered under the Clark & Tait western Queensland grazing portfolio dispersal.
Several of the contacts have finance clauses attached which will apply through to early February, and the final property is under option.
One of Queensland’s legendary privately-held pastoral companies, Clark & Tait announced in August that it would call time after 121 years of pastoral operations with the sale of its showcase central western Queensland grazing properties.
Final bids were accepted on the holdings on December 6. Property contacts suggest the Clark & Tait assets, currently lightly stocked due to seasonal conditions with about 25,000 cattle and 35,000 sheep, are collectively worth around $200 million.
Subject to finance clauses, the seven properties in the portfolio, detailed below, are likely to go to six separate buyers, with two of the smaller holdings being secured by a single entity.
Among the contract-holders is Toowoomba grazing identity Andrew Kibble, who is understood to have secured one holding, believed to be Barcaldine Downs.
Charters Towers cattleman Jack Mann, who in December sold his Dozey breeding property near Greenvale to the Australian Department of Defence for $36.5 million, confirmed earlier to Beef Central that he was an active participant in the sale process, but was unsuccessful in his offer for one or more the C&T properties. That may still change, however, if finance clauses attached to several of the current contracts fall over. Continued lack of any seasonal break across the region could also impact final outcomes in several cases, Beef Central was told.
Rumours of interest in at least one of the C&T holdings from nature conservancy sources has been dismissed outright by sources close to the sale process.
Beef Central understands that an existing C&T director, possibly Jan Clark, has signed a contract on one of the smaller properties in the portfolio, subject to conditions.
Interest in the assets during the marketing campaign has come from the corporate level, international entities, and well-established family grazing businesses – both from the local western Queensland area and further afield.
At least one of the unconditional contracts signed before Christmas is held by a corporate entity. One contract-holder is understood to be engaging with the Foreign Investment Review Board over their deal.
Brisbane financial and accounting firm, Bentleys, which is handling the marketing of the Clark & Tait assets, says it hopes to have the sales process completed by the end of February.
The seven properties in the C&T portfolio cover some 535,000ha, and have a combined carrying capacity of around 53,000 cattle (adult equivalent basis) in normal seasons, (or 46,550 cattle AE and 68,000 sheep (DSE). Many are considered among the best properties in their respective districts.
- Mantuan Downs, Springsure (133,744ha) – a large-scale cattle breeding & finishing property comprising an aggregation of two term lease pastoral leases known as Castlevale, to the west fronting the escarpments of the Great Dividing Range and, Mantuan Downs situated towards the east, plus three freehold parcels known as Semper Idem towards the south east on the bottom end of the Mantuan Downs lease.
- Mt Enniskillen, Blackall (135,200 ha) – a large scale cattle breeding & finishing property, comprising an aggregation of three Pastoral Holding leases.
- Barcaldine Downs, Barcaldine (46,735ha) – a large scale sheep breeding and Merino stud property
- Hobartville, Alpha (55,800ha) – a large scale cattle breeding & backgrounding property
- Boongoondoo, Jericho (48,408ha) – a cattle breeding & backgrounding property
- Powella, Aramac (45,163ha) – a cattle and sheep breeding & backgrounding property
- Bimerah, Longreach (68,370ha) – a cattle and sheep backgrounding property.
Most of the current Clark & Tait directors are descendants of the company’s original founders from 1898.
The holdings offered excellent scale and standards of development geared towards early-turnoff cattle production. None have ever been offered since they were aggregated by the original owners.
A spokesperson for the Clark & Tait group said in August that the families agreed that it was time to take the difficult, but deliberate step to sell the properties, and for the family shareholders to go their separate ways.
Origins trace to 1898
The business was founded by James Clark and Peter Tait (‘The Pearl King’) at Boongoondoo, near Jericho in the state’s southwest in 1898.
Clark & Tait expanded quickly during the First World War and represented huge holdings, driven mostly by sheep and wool growing. Barcaldine Downs was added to the portfolio in 1916. Wool became the principal commodity of Clark & Tait for several generations.
When James Clark died in 1933 the partnership was carried on by his son Colin, and on the latter’s death, both families continued the association to the present day.
Current stock numbers include a high quality Santa Gertrudis commercial herd along with a Barcaldine Downs blood Merino stud and commercial Merino and poll flock.