IN another measure of the strength of the current cattle market for premium northern grazing properties in desirable areas, the Queensland Channel Country’s Nappa Merrie Station has gone under contract – a week before the first buyer inspections were due to start.
Elders this morning confirmed that an unconditional agreement had been signed by vendors, Santos. Buyers were the Coulton family’s Marella Agriculture, with a reported price of $16 million bare, or $22/ha.
Settlement is expected to take place before the end of this year.
Elders was about to launch marketing campaigns for Nappa Merrie with a view to selling the property at an auction in Brisbane on 9 December, with first inspections by interested parties scheduled for next week, after earlier rain disruptions.
But a pre-emptive strike made early this week by a determined bidder has taken the auction process off the table – presumably for a price that vendor, Santos, could not refuse.
Located about 300km west of Thargomindah in the state’s southwest corner, Nappa Merrie is regarded as perhaps the best finishing property on the Cooper Channel system, and is the historical site of the Burke and Wills ‘Dig tree.’
Channel Country holdings of this size and quality rarely come on the market, perhaps hastening the buyer’s decision to move early, with a compelling offer.
Boasting more than 720,000ha of large-scale grass fattening country, including 200,000ha of beneficial flood-out country from Cooper Creek, Nappa Merrie has capacity to run around 13,000 head of cattle on average, with significantly higher numbers in optimal grass growing seasons.
In addition to the channel systems, the property is also watered by some 20 bores, plus dams.
Following recent July-September rain, Nappa Merrie is presenting in outstanding condition, as these photos indicate.
Gas miner Santos bought Nappa Merrie from Stanbroke Pastoral Co in 2006, primarily for gas development. S.Kidman and Co leased the property from Santos in 2007 until about 18 months ago, with the Coulton family from Goondiwindi utilising the property since then. Near neighbours include S. Kidman’s Naryilco to the east, and Nockatunga, next to that.
Santos said it was the appropriate time for the business to divest the property, whilst maintaining operational access for gas purposes.
“This is a common-sense decision to take advantage of the current environment in the agricultural sector as we continue to focus on our core business,” a Santos spokesman said.
Elders’ general manager of real estate, Tom Russo said it could not be a more opportune time for Santos to divest the holding, in the current grazing property market cycle.
“We continue to receive extremely strong levels of interest for highly productive properties of this scale, which are in short supply. It’s an exciting time to be an investor in Australian agriculture as we see a perfect storm of robust commodity demand and prices, excellent seasonal conditions, and low interest rates creating unprecedented interest in quality Australian agricultural assets,” he said.
“We are also witnessing the emergence of new classes of investors into Australian agricultural properties as a result of the strong macro-economic drivers for the sector and the desire to invest in highly productive land to achieve food security in the fast growing Asia Pacific region,” he said.