US bank owner’s Queensland cotton farm going for A$120m

The vertically integrated farm was one of the first sophisticated irrigated properties in the region.

Bank owner Dean Phillips’ cotton farm in Queensland is expected to sell for more than A$120 million ($90 million; €80 million) this month, according to Phillips’ advisor on the sale, BDO.

The American, who acquired the 14,166-hectare Koramba property in 1985, was credited with the establishment of Australia’s modern cotton industry and establishing irrigation in the region by BDO executive director of corporate finance Margaux Beauchamp.

“Without American knowledge, expertise and capital, Australia probably wouldn’t have experienced the rapid development of the cotton industry like it has,” said Beauchamp.

The Koramba farm is thought to be one of Australia’s largest cropping and irrigation enterprises. It comprises 5,400 hectares of flood irrigation land, 971 hectares of dryland cropping land and 7,795 hectares of grazing, irrigation storage and service land. The property also has water rights licenses totalling 31,105 mega litres.

Phillips bought Koramba as a grazing property and converted it to a cotton farm, adding a cotton gin in 1992. Beauchamp added: “Mr Phillips started irrigation farming in that region.” The property is located near Goondiwindi, on the border with New South Wales.

There are over 1,200 cotton farms in Australia, roughly divided between New South Wales and Queensland. Australia achieved a record crop of more than 5 million bales in 2011-2012 and in 2014 average cotton produced per planted hectare also exceeded 10 bales for the first time, according to government data. The increase is attributed to advances in seed technology.

China is Australia’s biggest cotton buyer. Australia’s cotton industry is the seventh largest in the world by volume, and China is the country’s biggest buyer.

Phillips owns HNB, formerly Bank of Hannibal, in Missouri and T&C Bancorp in Illinois.