Article by: Hari Yellina
A US investment firm has put another $400 million in Australian farm and water assets on the market, only days after earning $360 million from the acquisition of its Corinella farms. Vaucluse (4448 hectares) in Tasmania, One Tree (23,594 hectares) in Queensland and NSW, and Racecourse (14,425 hectares) in Queensland are the three portfolios of agricultural assets that Proterra Investment Partners is selling. The US private equity firm’s final surviving agricultural properties in Australia are these. Grain, sugarcane, horticulture, and animal production are among the new farm aggregations in Tasmania, NSW, and Queensland.
The company sold its 22,500-hectare Corinella Group, which included largely grain-growing enterprises in Western Victoria, the Wimmera, and South Australia, late last year. LAWD sold 49 properties to 27 different groups in that transaction. LAWD senior director Danny Thomas expects the diversity of the three large farm assets to generate local and international interest in this current sale, which comes at a time of “exceptional demand for farmland.” Mr Thomas added, “Proterra has done an exceptional job strategically aggregating land and water assets and transitioning them into highly productive aggregations, today representing over $400 million in value, across a wide range of geographical areas and commodities.”
Becs Willson, Proterra’s managing director, said the successful Corinella sale had prompted the company to accelerate its 10-year departure strategy from Australian farm holdings. “Now is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the current robust market,” Ms Willson said, “when there is insatiable hunger from investors who want to enter or develop in the agriculture industry.” She said that their investment fund’s “short-term character” paired with rising commodity prices gave them an opportunity to give “substantial returns to our investors.”
Vaucluse is the result of the merger of two adjacent properties in Tasmania’s Midlands, which has been transformed to include extensively developed irrigation land, including centre pivot and linear irrigation (2151ha) and hard hose traveller irrigators (447ha), with the remaining dryland cropping and grazing land. Proterra had grown Vaucluse to become one of the state’s top grain producers, according to Ms Willson. “We have built Vaucluse as a high-calibre, large-scale cereal producer, benefiting from strong demand from the Tasmanian cattle and aquaculture industries in an operating climate where there is limited local output,” Ms Willson said. The property is home to historical buildings, offices, and modern agricultural infrastructure, including 10-bedroom Vaucluse Homestead, and a circa 1832 five-bedroom Glen Esk Homestead.
One Tree is a 23,594ha agricultural asset that unites 21 distinct holdings throughout significant production zones such as Goondiwindi and Jandowae in Queensland, as well as North Star in NSW. The One Tree group of properties produces high-yielding wheat, barley, chickpeas, fava beans, cotton, and sorghum on self-mulching black brigalow soils. The portfolio, according to Mr Thomas, would appeal to a wide range of bidders, including local agricultural families wishing to grow. “One Tree has a unique scale and geographic spread, with a lot of work and effort put into strategically combining land and water to construct this A-grade institutional portfolio.
Racecourse is made up of three aggregations with a total area of 14,425 hectares in Queensland’s Clairview and Mackay areas, with the majority of large-scale irrigated and dryland sugarcane and cattle producers. Ms Willson said Proterra had grown the Racecourse portfolio by acquiring cattle properties for conversion back to sugarcane production since buying the Mackay region’s largest continuous use sugarcane farm in 2013. “We’re quite proud of what Racecourse has accomplished. Across the portfolio, we’ve used sophisticated agronomic methods and best industry practise to become one of Australia’s leading private sugarcane growers “she stated.