A new company backed with Chinese money has received Foreign Investment Review Board approval to seal the purchase of four Kimberley cattle stations for $100 million.The aggregation of properties covers one million hectares, including vast Moola Bulla near Halls Creek, and was sold by Kimberley cattleman Nico Botha and his South African-based brother.
The properties are
Moola Bulla (402,000ha),
Mount Amhurst (258,000ha),
Beefwood Park (205,000ha)
and Shamrock Station (178,000), with a total herd of around 47,000 head.
Newcomer group Consolidated Australian Pastoral Holdings, a joint-venture partnership between an unnamed Kimberley cattle family partnered with a Chinese investor, has bought the Botha empire and its 47,000 cattle.
It is the third big sale of prime Australian cattle assets to Chinese interests in the past six months, with Shanghai CRED group owning one-third of Gina Rinehart’s successful $386.5m recent bid for the Kidman empire and the Shanghai Zhongfu group buying Carlton Hills station north of Kununurra for $100m in August.
Sue Brosnan, of Tanami Rural Property in Katherine, said the deal was settled last week after six months of waiting for FIRB and other regulatory approvals, given the large Chinese stake within the CAPH syndicate. It is not known if the CAPH joint venture is with a single Chinese company or if several are involved in a virtual agricultural investment fund.
It is understood the sale was regarded as less sensitive than the high-profile Kidman because the four Botha stations close to Halls Creek, Broome and Fitzroy Crossing are already half-owned by South African interests.
Please note the above article is dated 21/11/16
The below article shows the history of the sale before FIRB approval – Dated 23/4/16
Rural group SAWA Pastoral Co sold in $100m deal
Moola Bulla (Kimberly region WA) station owner Nico Botha claimed he was going to have to cull thousands of cattle because of the live cattle export ban enforced by the Australian government. After announcing the cull to various Australian media Mr Botha decided against carrying out the killing as pressure mounted. Mr Botha refused to speak to media as they arrived at his Kimberly station stating he never wanted the media circus that has followed his claim to terminate up to 3000 head of cattle worth in the millions ($).
Moola Bulla in the WA Kimberley region is included in the transaction.
Western Australia’s SAWA Pastoral Co has changed hands for close to $100 million to a new fund assembled by South Australia’s Agrify, with plans to establish a large footprint in the agricultural sector.
Spanning more than 1 million hectares throughout the Kimberley, the South African Western Australian Pastoral Company portfolio owned by the Botha family is understood to be the largest rural transaction in WA to date.
It includes four cattle holdings: Moola Bulla and Mount Amhurst near Falls Creek, Beefwood Park near Fitzroy Crossing and Shamrock near Broome.
The sale, which comes at the end of a relatively short sales campaign launched in February, went to a newly formed investment group backed by international investors and formed by Adelaide-based advisory firm Agrify.
The move is the first investment from a fund that is expected to become a major player in Australia’s rural sector, according to Agrify chief executive Dale Champion.
“At this stage the intention is to develop the SAWA aggregation as a priority and look at other opportunities as they arise,” Mr Champion told The Weekend Australian.
“A critical part of our strategy is to identify and work with successful local operators in an effective JV arrangement and we are exploring opportunities on this basis. Funding is via international investors only at this stage.”
The deal is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval and WA state government regulatory approvals, but comes at a time when a swag of deep-pocketed international investors are showing more interest than ever in agriculture.
The $78 billion Queensland Investment Corporation last week was revealed to be in due diligence on the North Australian Pastoral Company, in a deal expected to be worth more than $400m. The pastoral company operates close to 6 million hectares of cattle stations across Queensland the Northern Territory.
QIC is also understood to have looked at other major cattle station operators such as S. Kidman and the former Packer family-owned Consolidated Pastoral.
At the same time, Chinese groups including Dakang and Shanghai Pengxin have both attempted to gain control of Kidman, Australia’s largest land holder, for more than $370m.
Mr Champion said international investors were attracted to the long-term benefits of agriculture, even if the metrics and income-generating potential of agricultural assets were harder to define than discrete purchases such as an inner-city office tower or other commercial holdings.
“The investment is not from international investors alone by any stretch. The difference is more simply that some of the international investors are recognising and attributing a higher level of confidence in the production assets than what many Australians investors are,” Mr Champion said.
“For Australian investors some of the reservation (toward rural assets) is created by a volatile recent history and an uncertainty around the sustainability of (commodity prices).
“Whereas international investors are taking a longer-term perspective and see the value of the Australian commodity on a global stage.”
Tanami Rural Property agent Sue Brosnan handled the deal.