Warakirri buys stone fruit assets for Farmland Fund

The two foundation assets for the Warakirri Farmland Fruit are stone fruit orchards that will be leased to WF Montague under a 20-year agreement.

Warakirri Asset Management has secured the first two assets for its open-end Warakirri Farmland Fund, which launched in 2021 with ambitions to raise up to A$500 million ($378.7 million; €347.6 million).

The firm has acquired two orchards for growing stone fruit, one near Cobram in Victoria and the other in New South Wales’ Goulburn Valley. The price for the two assets is understood to be in excess of A$30 million.

The assets will be leased to WF Montague, a family-owned fruit producer established in 1948, under a 20-year agreement which Warakirri said would make the firm one of the largest growers of premium plums, nectarines, apricots and peaches in Australia. WF Montague currently handles approximately 18 percent of apples and 15 percent of stone fruit grown in Australia.

The fund manager said that its Farmland Fund would also become one of the largest owners of “modern, high-density premium stone fruit orchards” in the country, with development expecting to expand the footprint of the two orchards to more than 250 ha.

The agreement will focus on producing specific “high-performing” varieties of plums, nectarines and apricots, a spokesman for Warakirri said.

The Warakirri Farmland Fund launched in 2021 with A$100 million in seed capital, including a cornerstone commitment of an undisclosed size from an unnamed European pension fund. The fund is targeting assets in the horticulture (nuts and fruit) and viticulture (wine and table grapes) sectors, as well as water entitlements and selected row crop farmland assets. It is targeting a net IRR of 10-12 percent over the long term.

A spokesman for the firm told Agri Investor: “We’re still working through deployment of the initial A$100 million seed capital and are working through a strong pipeline of potential investments in the nut, wine grape, fruit and row crop sectors.”

Speaking at the launch of the fund last year, portfolio manager for the fund Steve Jarrott said: “The fund is for a different type of client, rather than those family offices, high-net-worth individuals and small superfunds that we have relationships with through our Diversified Agriculture Fund. This is more tailored to institutional clients, targeted at those institutions who perhaps aren’t large enough to commit to large-scale own-and-operate investments in agriculture themselves, but still want to access the benefits of the sector.”