Strategy change: Qatar's Hassad taking next $80m Australian farm sell down

On the block: Raby Station, Central West NSW, near Warren. (Photo: Joshua J Smith)
Financial Review | 28 August 2017

Strategy change: Qatar's Hassad taking next $80m Australian farm sell down
by Matthew Cranston
Hassad Food – owned by Qatar's sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority – is selling another major portion of its Australian farmland portfolio worth about $80 million.
Hassad Australia was established in 2009 as Hassad Food Company's first overseas investment. Its first move in Australia was in 2010 with the purchase of the prized Kaladbro Estate in far western Victoria for about $25 million, before building a portfolio of more than 130 hectares worth well over $100 million. But the company has now changed tack and started selling properties including Kaladbro to the Brinkworth family and more recently Clover Downs to the Zell family for about $27 million.
The agricultural company originally established for food security for the small Middle Eastern nation is now changing its focus. 
Hassad chief executive John McKillop confirmed the next phase of the company's investment strategy, which comes after a review of existing operations.
"The new leadership plans to redirect the business away from pure primary production to a strategic blend of both farming and investments across the sheepmeat and grain supply chains," Mr McKillop said.
"In no way does this change in strategy represent any sort of withdrawal or downscale of Hassad's investment in, or commitment to, the Australian agricultural sector which, as we know is one of the strongest and most sought after in the world.
"However for our business, the future lies in a balanced portfolio including farm operations, value adding and the creation of a global export business capable of taking Australian food and fibre to the world.
"The sale of these properties will allow us to do that and to further diversify and strengthen our Australian operations, which is something we look forward to at this time of great opportunity for the production, processing and marketing of premium agricultural products."
In Central West NSW, near Warren, Hassad will sell the 8560 hectares Warren-district sheep holding 'Raby Station', home to the famous 'Raby' Merino Stud established in 1898. Landmark Harcourts' Trevor Wilson and Phil Rourke will be handling the marketing.
The property has a long frontage to the Macquarie River and includes an area of 385ha of developed irrigation country and 2560ha of dryland cultivation.
"The successful purchaser will acquire one of the Central Western NSW region's premier rural agribusiness enterprises which has been a significant part of Australian agricultural history and offers the opportunity to undertake a variety of agricultural pursuits," Mr Wilson said.
In SA,  the sale will comprise two grain aggregations, including the Cummins/Ungarra parcel of 'Tapley' and 'Garra', which jointly span 7106ha on the Eyre Peninsula, as well as the 3263ha 'Glendale' aggregation in the mid-north of the state near Clare.
CBRE's Phil Schell and Danny Thomas are marketing the Glendale aggregation.
"The mid-north is one of the state's most tightly held cropping regions, with the majority of operations held by third, fourth and fifth generation farming families and it is anticipated this opportunity to acquire a substantial presence in the region will attract strong interest," Mr Schell said.
The Eyre Peninsula aggregation will be marketed by Elders Real Estate. 
Elders Real Estate general manager Tom Russo said the company's national network continued to receive strong interest in highly productive cropping land, particularly for aggregations of scale.
"The South Australian market typically remains fragmented with large-scale aggregations being difficult to acquire. The Cummins/Ungarra aggregation is expected to receive significant interest from domestic and foreign corporate buyers seeking large-scale farmland investment opportunities," he said.
Hassad's original portfolio was set up by Bydand Agricultural Management Services, owned by entrepreneur Mike Gordon.
  •   AFR
  • 28 August 2017
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