Agriculture Capital enters Australia with citrus acquisition

The purchase of the 500-acre Mowbray Farm constitutes half of a partnership the firm has established with the Diaco Family, that also includes plans for a greenfield fruit-processing facility.

San Francisco-based Agriculture Capital, the food and ag arm of Equilibrium Capital, has entered the Australian market with the purchase of a 500-acre citrus farm.

The property, Mowbray Farm, is located in the city of Berrigan in southeastern New South Wales and was purchased from the Diaco Family, which is to remain intimately involved in managing the farm. It is based in a region referred to as Australia’s “citrus belt” and AC wrote that plans call for the collaboration with the family to continue as the firm looks for “other aligned opportunities.”

The agreement between AC and the Diaco Family also includes plans to build a greenfield fruit-processing facility in neighboring Cobram, in the state of Victoria, to be called Legacy Packing Australia. The facility will process a range of citrus varieties and stone fruit for both domestic and international markets.

“Similar to our purchase of citrus assets in the United States, the soil and climate on this farm are ideally suited to grow high-quality citrus, including Sumo Citrus,” said AC managing director Tom Avinelis. “We believe that our collective expertise will place us in a wonderful position to expand further in size and scope in the coming years.”

The A team

AC said that the firm’s business in Australia will be managed by Guy Kingwill, who has joined the firm as managing director. Kingwill comes to AC after two years as a director and member of the board at the Lower Murray Water Corporation. Previously, Kingwill spent 10 years as chief executive and managing director at Tandou, an ASX-listed company that invests in water entitlements, irrigation and other related sub-sectors.

“Having someone like AC involved in Australian agriculture is exactly the sort of investor we need if we are to strengthen and grow our position within both domestic and international markets,” said Frank Diaco, who was appointed managing director of Legacy Packing.

After closing its first fund on $250 million in 2015, AC surpassed its initial $400 million target before closing its second fund on $548 million in October. In November, vice-president Atish Babu told Agri Investor of the role that the firm’s focus on regenerative agriculture played in their fundraise, which concentrated largely on commitments from public pensions.