Media man Harold Mitchell has sold his burgeoning cattle station empire in Australia’s Kimberley region in Western Australia for more than $70 million.
The sale, which includes APN Outdoor chairman Doug Flynn’s stake as well, is understood to have been acquired by a wealthy Chinese businessman.
In 2015 Mr Mitchell appointed KPMG and ANZ to sell Yougawalla Pastoral Company, which includes three main cattle stations spanning more than 850,000 hectares and controls about 45,000 head of cattle.
Mr Mitchell declined to comment on the deal, which is believed to have already received approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. The Pastoral Lands Board of Western Australia is still to approve the transaction.
The homestead at Yougawalla Station, which is understood to have been bought by a wealthy Chinese businessman.
Yougawalla Pastoral also leases the 161,000-hectare Louisa Downs, the 141,000ha Bohemia Downs, the 80,000ha Carranya Station and the 182,000ha Lamboo Station, but none of these properties are part of the deal with the foreign buyer.
Mr Mitchell’s timing couldn’t be better, buying when prices were in the doldrums and selling at what appears to be back at the top of the market.
He started buying during the financial crisis picking up the main Yougawalla station for about $10 million. In 2011 he snapped up the 274,000ha Bulka Station adjoining Yougawalla for about $9 million.
Then in 2013 when the live export cattle trade had been smashed and the drought and prices were squeezing the cattle industry, Mr Mitchell shelled out $4.3 million for another massive cattle station – the 177,100ha Margaret River Station with 6000 head of cattle.
Mr Mitchell, who played a low-key but important role in negotiations with Indonesia on the live export trade, decided to sell after splitting with his wife of 50 years.
But the timing is right with pastoral property values rising sharply in the last few years.
The latest index shows values have risen 9.3 per cent in the last year. Major cattle station operator Australian Agricultural Company reported a 7 per cent rise in the value of its vast rural property portfolio in full-year results released on Wednesday.