Milltrust acquires Cottrell Farms

Milltrust Agricultural Investments has made its first acquisition through its MAI Australia Buy & Lease Fund, a vehicle it launched in June 2016 with the backing of UK institutional investors.

Milltrust Agricultural Investments (MAI) has acquired Cottrell Farms, an aggregation of citrus, wine and table grapes and avocado orchards in Australia’s Sunraysia region.

The transaction marks the first acquisition MAI is making through its Australia Buy & Lease Fund, a vehicle the firm launched last June with the backing of UK institutional investors.

MAI chief executive Griff Williams told Agri Investor that the current size of the fund is approximately A$40 million ($27.5 million; €25.3 million). He declined to disclose the acquisition price.

The portfolio of farms consists of four adjacent properties comprising 200 gross hectares planted to a variety of premium-quality citrus and a smaller area of table and wine grapes and avocados. The orchards consist of predominantly recent tree plantings and so have several decades of remaining productive capacity, while approximately 40 hectares of new plantings are underway.

“MAI has selected highly-skilled operating partners with proven track records to work with us to grow the operation, delivering repeatable income and attractive risk-adjusted gains to our fund investors,” Williams added in a statement.

The firm has already begun investing in improvements with the construction of a new cool room and packing shed, facilities which will help ensure compliance with export regulations.

MIA is the agricultural affiliate of emerging markets investment firm Milltrust International. According to the firm’s website, MAI’s Buy & Lease Strategy portfolio is aimed at providing investors with reliable and steady income through a diversified portfolio of established cashflow-positive farms in established agricultural regions.

The Australia Buy & Lease Fund, like its sister vehicle – the New Zealand fund – is open-ended and has a 10-year minimum subscription. According to Williams, the New Zealand fund is also worth approximately A$40 million.