Hancock Agriculture appoints John McKillop as CEO

McKillop will be charged with turning Hancock Agriculture into ‘the leading agribusiness in Australia’, as it continues to refine its portfolio.

Hancock Agriculture, the agricultural arm of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting business, has named John McKillop as its new chief executive.

McKillop will begin the role on 1 November and will also take on the role of chief executive at Kidman & Co, one of Australia’s largest beef producers. Kidman & Co was purchased in 2016 by Australian Outback Beef, a consortium owned by Hancock Prospecting (with a 67 percent stake) and Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co (with a 33 percent stake).

McKillop has held several high-profile roles in Australian agriculture, including CEO of Hassad Australia, a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority’s Hassad Food, where he oversaw the break-up and divestment of its portfolio in 2017 and 2018. He was managing director of asset manager AgCap from 2013-14, which then managed the A$500 million ($377 million; €323 million) Sustainable Agriculture Fund.

He is the independent chair of the Red Meat Advisory Council, a policy and advisory forum representing more than 80,000 Australian red meat producers, and joined real estate agent and agribusiness consulting firm LAWD as executive chairman in April 2020.

Hancock Agriculture has moved to divest some properties in the Northern Territory and Western Australia this year, listing one of the largest farm portfolios for sale in recent memory in March.

On the reason for that sale, a Hancock spokesman said: “Given inter alia the significant improvements and value creation that has been achieved from these investments, the company will now look to divest several properties to focus on more agricultural and cattle opportunities.”

Hancock Prospecting CEO Garry Korte said McKillop had been charged with making the firm’s agriculture division “the leading agricultural business in the country.”

Rinehart, the firm’s executive chair, added in a statement: “Agriculture and its associated industries are essential for Australia’s future. It is a major employer, contributes significantly to our country’s revenue and provides food security to our population. To allow our industry to flourish, we need an environment that welcomes investment, not overburdened by government costs and tape.

“I look forward to working with John towards making our agriculture division even better, while also being mindful of government policies that hurt the whole industry and those businesses who depend on our agricultural industry.”