Hancock sells cotton aggregation to Australian farming family

Hancock Agricultural Investment Group has sold Kalanga to Morella Agriculture for around A$80m.

US-based Hancock Agricultural Investment Group has sold its Kalanga Aggregation in Queensland to a local Australian buyer.

HAIG, whose parent, the Hancock Natural Resource Group, rebranded as Manulife Investment Management in November 2021, sold the asset to Morella Agriculture, a business owned by the Coulton family.

The price was not disclosed but Agri Investor understands the value of the deal was more than A$80 million ($57.2 million; €50.4 million).

Kalanga covers approximately 12,840ha and is an aggregation of several properties, as well as a grain handling facility, and vacant blocks in the rural town of Toobeah.

It comprises 69 fields ranging in size from 6ha to 140ha, with 3,544ha of land developed for irrigation. This land is supported by more than 23,430ML of permanent water storage, which allows for the use of 20,875ML for overland flow (floodplain harvesting) licences.

The property is best known for producing irrigated and dryland cotton, as well as wheat, barley, chickpeas and mungbeans as winter crops.

LAWD oversaw the sale, having also overseen HAIG’s initial acquisition of Kalanga in 2018 from another Australian farming family.

“The past two years there has been a strong trend of Australian family farm businesses securing additional farmland to expand operations at this time of strong seasons and an exceptional outlook for the agriculture industry – and we have seen this again with the Coultons securing this group of assets close to Morella Agriculture’s headquarters in Goondiwindi,” LAWD director Simon Cudmore said in a statement.

“The Kalanga Aggregation is an exceptional group of high-quality properties, ideally located to handling, processing and storage facilities, transport infrastructure and service providers, and we look forward to seeing it further prosper under the expert stewardship of the family.”

The sale is indicative of two trends in Australian farmland sales: the re-entrance of local farming families and corporate buyers into the market as serious buyers, and the continued trading of irrigation properties in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Several deals have involved local buyers purchasing from institutional sellers, with Proterra Investment Partners’ divestment of its Corinella portfolio in late 2021 a prime example.

On the irrigation front, large portfolios such as Auscott have changed hands in recent months, with goFARM the latest to join the pack after listing its horticultural development asset Sandmount Farms for sale.