Costa family puts fruit farms up for sale

The 14 berry and citrus farms could fetch as much as A$300 million, according to Kidder Williams, the agricultural corporate advisory firm executing the sale.

The family behind Australia’s largest horticultural company is selling a portfolio that includes blueberry and raspberry farms and citrus orchards.

The farms, located on the east coast, Tasmania and south Australia, are owned by the Costa family but leased and operated by the Costa Group, an ASX-listed company.

David Williams, managing director of agricultural corporate advisory firm Kidder Williams, is managing the sale for the Costa family, which is expected to raise as much as A$300 million ($238.1 million; €206.4 million).

According to Williams, the leases expire in 2026, but the farm’s future owners will have the option to renew.

The news comes just two weeks after the Costa Group announced that it had partnered with Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management (MAFM) for the acquisition of Lankester Avocado orchards and packing operations from the Lankester family.

Under the terms of that agreement, MAFM will purchase the three farms located in Far North Queensland and Costa will operate them under a 20-year lease. The Lankester family will remain with the business to perform key management and operational roles, the company said in a statement. The transaction, which is expected to close by the end of July, marks the second acquisition Costa and MAFM are realizing, under a recently announced arrangement to jointly consider M&A projects. The first deal was the acquisition of Avocado Ridge from the Carney Family in December 2016.

In addition to berries, citrus and avocados, Costa also grows mushrooms and glasshouse tomatoes. Operations include more than 3,500 planted hectares of farmland, 30 hectares of glasshouse tomatoes, and seven mushroom-growing facilities across Australia. Its international operations include interests in five blueberry farms in Morocco and two berry farms in China.