M.P. EVANS Group, the major owner of one of Australia's largest landholders and cattle producers, the North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCO), has sold a large cattle station in southern Queensland to a subsidiary of China's Fucheng Group.
The London-listed M.P. Evans offloaded the 31,000-hectare cattle-fattening property Woodlands, near Westmar, for $28 million.
The sale is conditional on various regulatory requirements, including Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
The parent company, Fucheng Group, is a supplier of automotive interior and exterior parts.
The transaction is the latest in a series of high-profile Chinese property purchases this year including Hailiang Group's $40 million purchase of farmland near St George, Dashang Group's $45 million purchase of Babcock and Brown founder Phil Green's Glenrock Station near Scone in the Hunter Valley, and Chinese billionaire Xingfa Ma's purchase of Wollogorang and Wentworth cattle stations on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory for $47 million.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, M.P. Evans, which in 2013 had co-operated with a potential sale of NAPCO, said the sale of Woodlands involved property only. The cattle and the plant and equipment, to be sold separately, are estimated to have a combined value of more than $10 million.
"The board determined some time ago, for strategic reasons, to sell Woodlands but significant interest in the property has developed only in recent months, further to the sharp strengthening of the cattle market," the M.P. Evans statement said.
"The proceeds from the sale will be used partly to repay a portion of the group's debt and partly applied towards the group's expansion in the Indonesian palm-oil sector."
In 2009, The Australian Financial Review reported that M.P. Evans had moved to sell the property with Ray White Rural International's Bruce Gunning and had expectations it could fetch more than $30 million.
M.P. Evans chairman Peter Hadsley-Chaplin said at the time: "Our interest has been in NAPCO and that represents a more appropriate investment in the Australian agriculture sector. It is better having a holding in a company which has a spread of properties."