Mitolo sells stake to Canadian pension fund
By Kim Berry
Australia’s largest potato producer, Mitolo Family Farms, has sold a majority stake in the business to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. MD Frank Mitolo says the company’s growth plans require extra capital but the family will retain a “significant ownership stake”.
Ontario Teachers has had a presence in Australia since 2018, through its AustOn agricultural arm. AustOn employs teams to manage almond grower Aroona Farms in South Australia and Victoria, Avocado enterprise Jasper Farms in Western Australia, and apples and stone fruit producer Pomona Valley in Victoria.
Mitolo Family Farms is a vertically integrated grower, harvester, packer and marketer of fresh potatoes and onions in Australia. It has 11 brands of potatoes on the market and employs more than 700 people. In 2020, it acquired Thomas Foods International’s potato business, saying it would increase its capacity and provide business continuity for packing and grading fresh produce in the Virginia region in South Australia, and help future proof the business through additional farming and water assets.
The business will continue as the Mitolo Family Farms, with managing director Frank Mitolo staying in the role along with the current executive leadership team that includes John Mitolo and Darren Mitolo.
“The next steps in our growth trajectory will require additional capital to enter into new markets and pursue strategies that will help us profitably respond to emerging trends in agriculture and food manufacturing.
Ontario Teachers’ senior managing director Natural Resources, Christopher Metrakos, said the fund was keen to help Mitolo Family Farms grow its ambitions and increase the quality and reliability that made Mitolo a category leader.
“Ontario Teachers’ and AustOn have a proven track record in investing in the farming sector both in Australia and worldwide, and we are focused on using this experience to deliver long-term, sustainable growth with Mitolo Family Farms,” Metrakos said.
Mitolo added: “The family realised that the additional capital would require partnering with the right investor who understands the cyclical and long-term nature of agriculture, and we believe Ontario Teachers’ is the ideal partner with which to take the business forward.”
The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.
PE Hub | 30 March 2023
PE Hub | 30 March 2023
The transaction also includes the presence of Ontario Teachers' Australian agriculture subsidiary AustOn Corp.
by Iris Dorbian
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has acquired a majority interest in Mitolo Family Farms, a Virginia, Australia-based vertically integrated grower, harvester, packer and marketer of fresh potatoes and onions. The Mitolo family will retain a significant ownership stake.
The transaction also includes the presence of Ontario Teachers’ Australian agriculture subsidiary AustOn Corp.
No financial terms were disclosed. The deal is expected to wrap up by June 30, 2023.
Mitolo Family Farms’ portfolio represents one of Australia’s largest horticultural land aggregations. With more than 50 years of operations, the business is the category leader across potatoes and onions, supplying fresh produce to major supermarkets and wholesalers nationally.
On the deal, Christopher Metrakos, senior managing director, natural resources at Ontario Teachers’ said in a statement, “Ontario Teachers’ and AustOn have a proven track record in investing in the farming sector both in Australia and worldwide, and we are focused on using this experience to deliver long-term, sustainable growth with Mitolo Family Farms.”
AustOn has been in operation since 2018. It employs teams to manage Aroona Farms, which produces almonds in South Australia and Victoria, Jasper Farms, which produces avocados in Western Australia, and Pomona Valley, which produces apples and stone fruit in Victoria.
Ontario Teachers’, one of Canada’s largest pension systems, had net assets of $247.2 billion as of December 31, 2022.