Primewest acquires citrus and table grapes farm

The firm has had an action-packed 12 months since its entry into ag with MIRA’s acquisition of Vitalharvest, the launch of its own dedicated ag fund and a merger with Centuria Capital Group.

ASX-listed real estate fund manager Primewest has built on its recently established position in agriculture with a sale-and-leaseback deal for a citrus and table grapes farm in Victoria. Financial details were undisclosed.

The Piscioneri Farms asset consists of approximately 93 hectares of land, 84 ha of which are planted, and features “extensive water access rights and modern infrastructure,” said a statement from estate agent Smith Agri International, which managed the sale. The assets were sold by the Piscioneri family.

The farm has been leased out to Montague Bros on a “long-term lease,” Smith Agri director David Smith confirmed to Agri Investor, which the estate agent said would act as an “important investment in the supply of fresh produce to Montague’s new $66 million Narre Warren processing facility.”

Agri Investor understands Primewest drew capital from its first dedicated agriculture vehicle, Primewest Agricultural Trust No 1 (also known as the Primewest Agricultural Fund), which is an open-ended unlisted property trust that was launched with a A$100 million ($76 million; €64 million) fundraising target.

The vehicle’s target size was raised to A$350 million in February after Primewest completed a A$60 million share placement.

The firm has deployed at least A$46 million from the fund, having already acquired the 425 ha Pinegatta property in New South Wales for A$4.2 million, and the 385-hectare Lamattina property on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula for A$42 million.

The real estate fund manager first moved into agriculture in June 2020 with the acquisition of goFARM Asset Management, which granted it the management rights to the ASX-listed Vitalharvest Freehold Trust. It also acquired a stake in Vitalharvest at the same time.

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets made a bid of A$1 per unit by way of scheme of arrangement for the Vitalharvest Freehold Trust in November 2020 in a deal worth approximately A$185 million. MIRA also offered to acquire all of Vitalharvest’s assets for A$300 million if the scheme failed to be approved by shareholders.

The move kicked off a bidding war with Roc Partners, with MIRA eventually winning out with an offer of A$1.33 per unit. MIRA also offered to acquire all Vitalharvest’s assets for A$357.35 million if the scheme of arrangement failed to receive approval from shareholders.

In April 2021, Centuria Capital Group entered into a bid implementation agreement to make an off-market takeover offer for 100 percent of Primewest’s shares to effect a merger between the two companies.

The approximately A$600 million deal will see Primewest’s shareholders receive a cash consideration of A$0.20 per share and 0.473 Centuria shares per Primewest stock, equating to A$1.31 of value based on Centuria’s closing price on April 16, 2021.

Centuria has no existing agriculture investments, and the firm highlighted in a presentation to shareholders the “enhanced diversification” it would gain from exposure to Primewest’s retail and agriculture assets.