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QIC’s NAPCO appoints new chief executive

The decision to appoint Stephen Thompson chief investment officer is a sign that the company will quickly build up its retail and downstream capacity.

The Queensland Investment Corporation’s North Australian Pastoral Company has replaced chief investment officer Nigel Alexander with Stephen Thompson of Brett Blundy Retail Capital in a bid to build up the company’s downstream presence.

QIC bought an 80 percent stake in the company through a direct deal earlier this year.

Thompson is currently chief relationship officer at beef and agri-focused investment firm BBRC. His LinkedIn profile describes him as having “diverse interests in global retail, beef breeding, a $1bn property portfolio, funds management and a founding investment in BridgeClimb, with a focus on growing the beef business”.

According to industry insiders, the appointment is a reflection of QIC’s ambitions to build up the company’s downstream assets and capabilities.

QIC global head of private equity and head of the NAPCO transaction team Marcus Simpson previously told Agri Investor: “In order to be able to tap into the macro-story … we do want to hold this for [at least 10 years]. It is going to take time to really build out the supply chain to Asia, and we probably will do some add-ons and continue to invest in the business.”

Alexander, a great-grandson of one of NAPCO’s founders, was key to developing the company’s breeding programme, and helped geographically diversify the company’s properties to tackle water shortages risks.

He will stay on with NAPCO as a board director for an unspecified interim period, and is leaving the firm of his own accord, according to sources.

“NAPCO doesn’t have full coverage of the value chain but is breeding through the feedlot. We think that over the next decade the breeding operation [will be] critical,” QIC principal Phillip Cummins told Agri Investor in May.

“There is a lot of risk from climate and commodity pricing, so over time we also want to de-commoditise our product to generate better margins and move it further down that value chain, building resistance into the company to try and minimise price volatility at any point of that chain.”

Investing downstream and even in competing markets could shore up supply chains against future challenges, consultancy and asset manager Direct Agriculture chief executive Philip Jarvis, who also owns his own cattle operation, told Agri Investor. However, he warned, such moves have not always made cattle businesses more profitable in the past.

NAPCO’s herd has over 170,000 cattle, in northern Australia.

QIC, an institutional investor and investment manager, invested in NAPCO on behalf of Queensland’s Long Term Asset Advisory Board and the UK’s Pension Protection Fund.