AIMCo and New Agriculture secure A$300m Kimberley Cattle Portfolio

A large-scale portfolio previously belonging to the Hui family adds weight to New Forests’ recently established agriculture division.

Alberta Investment Management Corporation and New Agriculture have announced the acquisition of a large-scale cattle business in Western Australia.

The Kimberley Cattle Portfolio includes Yougawalla Pastoral Co and Argyle Cattle Co and spans almost 3,000,000ha in the northwest region of the Kimberley.

The portfolio previously belonged to Archstone Investment Group, the family office of Chinese property developer Hui Wing Mau, Australia’s 19th-wealthiest person according to the 2023 Australian Financial Review Rich List.

Agri Investor understands the value of the deal is greater than A$300 million ($200 million; €180 million). The value of the deal was not disclosed publicly and New Agriculture declined to comment on the financial details of the transaction.

The acquisition will be AIMCo’s first foray into Australian cattle, after a series of deals alongside New Agriculture’s parent firm New Forests in Australian farmland over recent years.

AIMCo head of infrastructure and renewables resources Ben Hawkins said the Kimberley Cattle Portfolio was an established and well-maintained asset that would provide diversification in AIMCo’s client portfolios.

“We are very pleased to continue our partnership with New Agriculture, which will contribute its deep asset management and sustainability expertise as we seek to achieve both positive investment returns and community impact,” he said.

AIMCo and New Forests made a splash in Australian agriculture with the acquisition of mixed farming business Lawson Grains from funds managed by Macquarie Asset Management in January 2022.

For New Forests, this triggered the launch of a new division – New Agriculture – to manage the Lawson Grains business and begin to build a global portfolio of agriculture assets.

New Forests CEO Mark Rogers told Agri Investor last year (when he was senior managing director) that although forestry had been the firm’s core focus for the previous 10 years, it was a relatively small asset class in Australia, making up less than 1 percent of the country’s arable land verify.

Thus, the move into farmland. “It was a natural extension for us – if we want to get bigger and have more impact, and take a wider range of products to our clients, we need to extend further across the landscape,” Rogers said.

New Agriculture director Bruce King said the Kimberley Cattle Portfolio would help the firm achieve its investment goals while holding its sustainability practices to the same benchmark as New Forests had done in the forestry sector.

“With up to 25 percent of the solution to climate change expected to come from the land use sector, we have a responsibility to manage these landscapes for sustainability outcomes, and with our local communities in mind,” he said in a statement.

“New Agriculture will continue to focus on sustainability practices which allow for not only the protection and restoration of landscapes, but which also lead to the enhancement of natural capital over time.”

Danny Thomas, senior director at real estate agency LAWD, who was involved in the sale, said the Kimberley Cattle Portfolio could cater to a variety of livestock markets.

“This aggregation is special in that you can breed, background and finish, and the owners have done an excellent job in putting together a significant landholding that can be run as a single entity, including irrigated land to finish stock.”

The business can run up to 50,000 breeders across its seven pastoral leases and five sub-leases, as well as an agistment agreement across 153,475ha.

Kimberley Cattle Portfolio managers Haydn and Jane Sale will stay on as part of the agreement.

Approvals for the deal are expected to be completed by the first half of 2024.