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Canadian investment firm buys nearly 3 million hectares of Kimberley cattle country in $300m deal

The Argyle Cattle Company working stock in the Kimberley. (Photo: Consolidated Australian Pastoral Holdings)
ABC | 30 November 2023

Canadian investment firm buys nearly 3 million hectares of Kimberley cattle country in $300m deal

By Alys Marshall

Some of Western Australia's most sought-after cattle country is set to move from Chinese to Canadian ownership in a newly struck deal.
 
The 2.9 million hectare aggregation made up of Yougawalla Pastoral Co and Argyle Cattle Co is set to be acquired by Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) and New Agriculture for more than $300 million.
 
The land covers a significant chunk of cattle country in the Kimberley, in the state's far north, including prime access to water sources along the Fitzroy River catchment.
 
The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals and assessment by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).
 
AIMCo, through its Australian operation New Agriculture, already owns and operates one of Australia's largest corporate grain growers in Lawson Grains.
 
Ben Hawkins, AIMCo's executive managing director, said it's the first time the company has invested in the pastoral sector. 
 
"The [aggregation] is an established and well-managed asset that provides important diversification to our client portfolios," he said.

As part of the agreement, AIMCo will retain Haydn and Jane Sale as managers of the Kimberley cattle portfolio.
 
"We are very happy with the eventual buyer," Mr Sale said.

Details of the sale
The land exchanging hands is made up of seven pastoral leases and five sub-leases, with approval for nearly 500 hectares of centre-pivot irrigation and frontage to three major Fitzroy catchment rivers and Christmas Creek. 
 
Speaking when the land was advertised by his real estate company LAWD, director Danny Thomas estimated there would be plenty of interest in the sale.
 
"I think the opportunity here is probably going to be the ability to be able to pivot away from live export [cattle] totally or to give you access to both markets [by utilising irrigated cropping in cattle production]," Mr Thomas said.

It's these natural assets that AIMCo is planning on expanding, Haydn Sale said.
 
"Ensuring we can grow fodder to further value-add cattle has been a big key focus for us and the new buyers coming in really saw that as a big upside for the business," he said.
 
"So they're very much behind getting that development done."
 
Chinese-Australian billionaire stepping away 
 
Yougawalla Pastoral Co and Argyle Cattle Co were both previously held by Hui Wing Mau, founder of Hong Kong property developer Shimao Group, with projects in Asia and Australia.

"I think [Hui Wing Mau has] taken an opportunity to, in an orderly way, roll out of this investment and go and focus on some of their other core investments," Mr Thomas said.
  • Icon-world  ABC
  • 30 Nov 2023

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