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TIAA’s Westchester puts NSW dryland cropping property up for sale

Westchester is selling its NSW Golden Triangle property, Grainfields, expected to fetch a price of more than A$8,000 per ha.

Westchester Group Investment Management, the wholly-owned subsidiary of US pension TIAA-CREF, is selling dryland farming property Grainfields, in the Golden Triangle area of northern New South Wales.

The property comprises 2,058 hectares, of which 1,946 hectares is arable (94 percent of the total land area) and has capacity for 2,350 tonnes of grain storage.

It has been planted to wheat, barley, canola, chickpeas and sorghum at various times, with wheat and barley planted for the summer 2019-20 cropping season. Some paddocks have also been left fallow due to the dry conditions being experienced in much of NSW.

Selling agent Colin Medway of CBRE Agribusiness described the property to Agri Investor as “probably one of the best laid-out dryland farming properties I’ve seen.”

“It’s highly well-developed for operational efficiency,” he said.

The property is likely to be worth north of A$8,000 ($5,400; €4,900) per hectare, Medway added.

CBRE’s information memorandum said the property “boasts all the desirable attributes of a first-class cropping platform” and represents a “genuine turnkey opportunity” for buyers.

Any buyer will also have the chance to purchase an adjoining property, Oodnadatta, which covers 3,163 hectares. Both properties are run by a single management team currently, with two years left on the lease.

It is understood that the owner of Oodnadatta decided independently to sell their property and Westchester felt it made more sense to keep them together, making it the right time to divest.

“It’s drawing a lot of local and institutional interest, the latter because of the likely big cheque size,” Medway said.

CBRE is conducting the sale via an expression of interest campaign closing on 3 October.

A spokeswoman for Nuveen, the TIAA-owned asset manager of which Westchester is an affiliate, declined to comment on the sale.

Westchester managed around 850,000 hectares of farmland globally at the end of 2018, 37 percent of which was in Australia and 74 percent of which was used to grow grains, oilseeds and cotton, as has been done at Grainfields. The firm had $8.2 billion of assets under management according to its 2019 Sustainability Report.