Macquarie Agriculture’s Lawson Grains sells to foreigners

Macquarie Agriculture has sold its Lawson Grains portfolio, comprising 105,000ha in NSW and Western Australia.

 Weekly Times Now | 6 Sep 2021

Macquarie Agriculture’s Lawson Grains sells to foreigners

One of Australia’s biggest grain farm businesses, Lawson Grains, has sold to an offshore investor for more than half a billion dollars.

James Wagstaff

One of Australia’s biggest grain farm businesses has sold to offshore interests for more than half a billion dollars.

Macquarie Agriculture – the nation’s second-biggest farmland investor — today announced it had sold its Lawson Grains portfolio comprising 105,000 hectares, or more than a quarter of a million acres, of cropping land in NSW and Western Australia, to Sydney-based global forestry investment manager New Forests and Canada’s Alberta Investment Management Corporation.

The Lawson Grains portfolio — comprising more than 70 properties purchased since its launch in 2012 — was listed amid much fanfare in March with expectation of $500-600 million. The Weekly Times understands the sale price is north of $550 million.

The sales process, conducted on an expressions of interest basis by specialist rural property agency LAWD, attracted widespread domestic and international buyer interest.

The Weekly Times understands it is Alberta Investment Management Corporation’s first direct investment in agriculture in Australia. In 2011, it was involved in the purchase of the Great Southern Plantations assets for $415 million.

Lawson Grains was one of three of Macquarie Group’s three agriculture-specific investment funds, along with Paraway Pastoral and Viridis Ag. Their combined assets were valued at more than $3 billion.

Based at Albury in NSW, Lawson Grains comprises 10 aggregations in Western Australia and NSW with about 90,000ha of arable land which last year produced more than 250,000 tonnes of grains and oilseed.

Its NSW holdings include the 10,549ha Uah at Forbes, the 10,052ha Grassmere at Oaklands, the 8270ha Borambil at Rand and the 7490ha Kealandi at Moree, which was Lawson’s first purchase in 2012. The West Australian portfolio includes Hakea at Esperance (12,734ha), Gunnadoo at Jerramungup (11,259ha), Wongan at Wongan Hills (10,770ha), Jerry South at Jerramungup (5983ha), St Leonards at Wongan Hills (5698ha) and Walyoo at Yathroo (5620ha).

According to its website, Lawson’s switched its focus in 2017 from property acquisition to “driving performance across the business” with latest technology, practices, processes and expertise adopted to optimise productivity.

It has been a huge year for rural property sales in Australia with Canada’s PSP Investments paying more than $500 million for the Auscott Limited cotton growing and processing business in NSW.

Last month, Sydney-based private equity firm ROC Partners purchased a major stake in the $120 million Murray River Land business, which comprises about 60 mostly former dairy farms covering 10,000 hectares between Numurkah in northern Victoria and Tocumwal in southern NSW.

Other major properties on the market include:

US private equity firm Proterra Investment Partners’ 22,500-hectare Corinella Group of more than 50 properties in Victoria and South Australia, expected to fetch $350 million.

MINING magnate billionaire Gina Rinehart’s $300 million portfolio of seven cattle stations and feedlot for sale in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

RETAIL king Brett Blundy’s Walhallow and Amungee Mungee stations in the Northern Territory, which is expected to fetch $230 million.

THE Chinese-owned Shenhua aggregation on the NSW Liverpool Plains, covering 15,000 hectares, which has been listed for $122 million.  

Original source: Weekly TImes

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