Asset manager goFARM has listed its Sandmount Farms asset for sale, a “shovel-ready” horticultural development opportunity of rare scale according to selling agent LAWD.
The asset, located 45km north of Shepparton at Katunga, Victoria, close to the border with New South Wales, covers an area of 6,500ha. Of that, approximately 4,000ha is suited to horticultural development and the balance to row cropping.
Underpinning this is more than 50,000ML of water entitlements, around 28,000ML of which are high-security entitlements, ensuring that the asset comes with the largest portfolio of water in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District, as well as one of the largest in the southern Murray-Darling Basin.
The asset is expected to fetch north of A$250 million ($178.8 million; €157.4 million), making it one of the more valuable aggregations to hit the Australian market in recent years.
goFARM has built Sandmount Farms through more than 70 separate land and water rights purchases since 2018.
The existing site includes more than 200ha of almond orchards and 70ha of seedless mandarins, planted by goFARM as proof of concept for a wider development. Approvals and designs are in place for further work, which would allow an institutional or large corporate investor to rapidly establish a large horticultural enterprise.
The rest of the land is used for irrigated and rainfed row cropping of corn, barley, wheat, canola and faba beans.
goFARM managing director Liam Lenaghan said in a statement: “Incumbent horticultural growing regions are increasingly facing water access and delivery issues, increasing climate-induced stress, such as heat stress and declining chill units, and labor shortages.
“Through our research we identified this region, and the properties that now sit within the Sandmount Farms portfolio, as the best in Australia for addressing these issues and sustainably growing high-value crops now and into the future.
“goFARM’s focus is on being the catalyst for transformation in Australian agriculture. We are the first money in and take the greatest risk position to demonstrate production and earnings potential of assets and regions with the goal to provide the confidence for others to invest. If we can do that, then it’s good for the region, good for the industry and good for Australia.
He continued: “In the case of [the] Sandmount Farms portfolio, major investment has been made in detailed land capability assessments, the delivery of an independent climate and horticultural review, extensive planning and design to derisk and accelerate future development and building a capable team that can execute the project. The time is now right to open up this landmark project to a new pool of equity capital to realize its full potential.”
Lenaghan added that goFARM would be interested in being engaged by the eventual buyer to continue executing on its long-term vision for the asset, but said he understood that some purchasers would wish to take on management of the development themselves.
LAWD senior director Danny Thomas said that goFARM had “accomplished its investment goal” in preparing Sandmount Farms for further development and that a “step change in production, earnings and capital […] will be achieved with an injection of new investment.”
An information memorandum will be released on March 7 with expressions of interest closing on April 29, 2022.
goFARM listed another of its assets, Yarrabee Park, for sale in 2021. A dryland and irrigated cropping asset in the southern Riverina region of New South Wales, it was described by the firm as “one of the largest contiguous broadacre cropping assets” in the area.
Agri Investor understands that a buyer has been found for Yarrabee Park, with financial settlement expected in the coming weeks.