GINA Rinehart has added to her expanding Northern Territory pastoral interests with the purchase of Willeroo station, a large breeding property southwest of Katherine on the Victoria Highway.
In another case of Australian interests ‘buying back the farm,’ Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has secured the 170,000ha property from Agri International, a company connected with Indonesia’s Great Giant Pineapple, one of Indonesia’s largest lotfeeders of Australian cattle.
Expressions of interest were sought for Willeroo in April. No sale price was disclosed, but the deal included close to 20,000 branded Brahman cattle.
Agri International bought Willeroo three years ago. Director of Agri International, Josep Lay, said the Willeroo Station has been a fantastic opportunity for the principals to understand and participate in the northern Australian cattle industry.
About $4.5 million had been spent on improvements, mostly fencing, waters and yards, since GGL bought the property in 2014 from the Sultan of Brunei, in a foreign-owner to foreign-owner deal. The development project had lifted carrying capacity by about 40 percent.
GGL has imported Australian feeder cattle for almost 30 years, supplying its two Sumatran feedlots which have capacity for around 35,000 head.
The purchase adds to Ms Rinehart’s existing interests in the Victoria River District, including 147,000ha Aroona, bought for about $24 million earlier this year, and the larger Riveren Inverway aggregation further southwest towards the WA border. The 550,000ha Riveren Inverway aggregation, running about 40,000 head of Brahman cattle, was bought from another Indonesian owner, Japfa Santori.
Mr Lay said Agri International and parent company GGP were particularly proud of their input into the northern Australian cattle industry in developing Willeroo, and supporting the local community.
He also acknowledged the fine service of Willeroo’s management and staff on the property during the company’s ownership, and their application to the task, especially during the sale process.
Much of the development work and sale process was overseen by advisor, Peter Watkins.
Speaking after the transaction Gina Rinehart said Hancock was interested in securing Willeroo because it believed it could add improvements and value to the station, copying what we had already been introduced successfully on other Hancock stations, and currently being rolled-out across Kidman properties also.
“Willeroo will well complement our existing investments in the North,” she said.
“Its location next to Aroona will allow us to operate the two stations as a combined unit. Also being near to the Phoenix Park export depot, it will assist part of the wet season growing program for Riveren and Inverway as well as help to provide better market timing opportunities for some of Hancock Beef’s Kimberley cattle stations.”
Hancock Agriculture chief executive David Larkin said with continued investment and introduction of new technology and cattle welfare programs on Hancock properties, the company’s beef portfolio would grow, presenting greater tools for management and economies-of-scale, with an opportunity to increase stock numbers and productivity.
Includes comment supplied by Hancock Prospecting.