AACo names executive director to help drive new export markets

The Australian Agricultural Company has appointed Shehan Dissanayake executive director, “a first step in strengthening the company’s executive ranks” as AACo looks to expand into more export markets.

Australian cattle and beef producer Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) has named Shehan Dissanayake executive director to accelerate the company’s ongoing transformation from a traditional cattle operation to a beef exporter.

Dissanayake, who was also elected vice chairman of the Queensland-based company’s board, is the managing director and board member of Tavistock Group, the investment firm which owns 38 percent of AACo.

He will take an important operational role as AACo expands into additional export markets including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, the US and the United Arab Emirates, an AACo spokesman told Agri Investor.

“Dr. Dissanayake will oversee areas including sales and marketing, human resources, IT and innovation but each of those groups will also have a general manager for the day-to-day operations,” he said.

In a statement, AACo chief executive and managing director Jason Strong described Dissanayake’s appointment as “a first step in strengthening the company’s executive ranks” as the company continues to grow into foreign markets.

Established in 1824, AACo is Australia’s largest integrated cattle and beef producer with properties, feedlots and farms comprising around seven million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory, but in more recent years has taken steps to vertically integrate.

To that end, the company launched two of its flagship luxury brands – Westholme and Wylarah – in Singapore last October, in part to boost exports. According to Strong, the company strategy is to launch these brands into other key markets over the course of this year.

Asked what the next steps would be, the company’s spokesman added: “AACo expects to announce further executive appointments in the second half of this year.”

While Dissanayake’s appointment is on an interim basis, it does not have a specific term. “He will remain in the role while the company expands its brands and builds a world-class IT system to service its global supply chain,” the spokesman said.

Before joining Bahamas-based Tavistock Group in 2002, Dissanayake was a managing partner at Arthur Andersen. Earlier in his career he was involved in medical research and technology, having earned a PhD in pharmacological and physiological sciences from the University of Chicago. He has been a director of AACo since 2012.