MIRA snaps up Hassad’s remaining Australian farms

Hassad will invest in one of MIRA’s ag portfolios as part of the deal in a shift in strategy for the Qatar-backed group.

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets has agreed to acquire Hassad Food Group’s remaining Australian agriculture investments, integrating the assets into two different portfolios.

As part of the deal, Qatar Investment Authority’s Hassad will invest in one of MIRA’s agriculture portfolios, although MIRA declined to disclose which portfolio this would be or the size of Hassad’s investment.

Agri Investor understands that three properties will become part of the portfolio belonging to Paraway Pastoral Company, the sheep and cattle-grazing enterprise that is wholly owned by the Macquarie Pastoral Fund and managed by Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management.

Those assets comprise the 8,244-hectare Barton Station, a sheep-and-grain property in Victoria; the 22,562-hectare Old Bundemar sheep-and-grain property in New South Wales; and the 25,932-hectare Urawilkie grain-and-livestock property in NSW.

All Hassad Australia’s remaining assets, apart from the 47,677-hectare Telopea Downs property that was recently sold to AJ & PA McBride in a “record sale,” will become part of MIRA’s Viridis Ag portfolio, Agri Investor understands. Viridis Ag bought its first farm this year and aims to build a collection of dryland farming and irrigated cropping properties.

Viridis Ag will acquire the 7,448-hectare Englefield Plains and 8,516-hectare Gindurra sheep-and-grain properties in NSW, as well as three grain properties in Western Australia: the 14,672-hectare Amirinya, the 8,483-hectare Bindana Downs, and the 8,340-hectare Yupiri properties.

The portfolio covers more than 104,000 hectares in total. MIRA declined to state which portfolios the assets would be moved into.

The sale price has not been disclosed but sources have told Agri Investor that Hassad was set to make a substantial return for QIA from the transaction.

MIRA said the investment from Hassad in one of its agriculture portfolios was in line with Hassad’s previously announced strategic review and would allow it to broaden its Australian agriculture investments across a larger and more diversified portfolio. The move represents a shift in strategy for Hassad Australia, as it moves away from direct majority ownership of Australian agricultural enterprises.

MIRA added that it would grow its teams in the NSW cities of Albury and Orange to help manage the expansion of its portfolio.

“The farms are high-quality assets, which will further our strategy of developing large-scale and diversified cropping and livestock production portfolios in Australia,” said Elizabeth O’Leary, the firm’s head of agriculture.

MIRA noted that all necessary regulatory approvals had been obtained and that the transition of the properties is expected to complete in the second half of 2018.