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NZ Super grows ag portfolio with first beef investment

The acquisition of Australia's Palgrove Stud brings the sovereign fund's land portfolio to 33 farms worth $215m.

Cattle grazing in desert pasture. Outback New South Wales, Australia, at sunset.

The acquisition of Australia’s Palgrove Stud brings the sovereign fund’s land portfolio to 33 farms worth $215m.

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has acquired a stake in Palgrove, an Australian beef stud farm, acting on its plans to expand its agriculture portfolio beyond New Zealand dairy.

The sovereign wealth fund did not disclose financial details, only stating that its land portfolio now comprises 33 farms worth approximately NZ$340 million ($215.1 million; €183.0 million). However, a spokeswoman for the fund confirmed that before the investment in Palgrove, which owns multiple farms in Australia, NZ Super owned 22 dairy farms in New Zealand. In an interview with Agri Investor earlier this year, Neil Woods, the fund’s portfolio manager for agri and timber, said those 22 farms were valued at about NZ$300 million, accounting for around 1 percent of the fund’s NZ$35 billion portfolio.

“We have been looking at the Australian beef industry for some time as part of an overall diversification strategy for the Fund,” Woods said when announcing the investment. “The Bondfields are viewed as leaders in the beef seedstock industry; they have a significant history of development and growth and have the integrity we look for in our partnerships,” he added, referring to David and Prue Bondfield, the owners of Palgrove.

David Bondfield established the Palgrove stud more than 40 years ago. Since then, the farms have grown from an original 50 cows to around 5,000 heads of registered cattle, according to the Palgrove website.

Palgrove was considered a pioneer in the importation of the Charolais breed to Australia back in 1970. In 2009, Palgrove started breeding Ultrablack, which is “an Angus/Brangus fixed composite that retained the meat quality and fertility of the Angus breed, but had the heat tolerance and survivability built in from the Brangus genetics,” the company states on its webiste.

Based near Stanthorpe, Queensland, Palgrove livestock and properties now spread across Queensland and New South Wales.