Twynam confirms Riverina sell-down

16 Apr, 2008 03:54 PM

NSW farming giant, Twynam Pastoral Company, is poised to sell off the bulk of its Western Riverina landholdings in the Kahlbetzer family's latest move to rationalise its Australian pastoral base.

"Mungadal", "Cobran" and "Steam Plains", in the Hay district, will go on the market towards the end of this month in the biggest Riverina agricultural offering in more than a decade.

If, as suggested, the sale brings in over $80 million, it will rival the mega-sale in January of Twynam's prized northern NSW cropping aggregation, "Boolcarrol"/"Milton Park" near Narrabri.

Rumours of the impending Riverina sale have been circulating for several weeks and a speculative newspaper report earlier this week prompted an official confirmation that the sale was "on".

The confirmation came from Anthony Guinness, the co-principal with Geoff James of the Sydney-based consultancy, Food and Agribusiness Services Group, which has been engaged by Twynam to manage and co-ordinate the marketing program.

Twynam's CEO, Christine Campbell, is in Argentina this week and was not available for comment.

The three landmark Riverina properties, encompassing more than 110,000 hectares, will be offered for sale by expressions of interest as a combined business package, "Twynam South".

It will include land, water entitlements, plant and livestock - the latter including the renowned Mungadal Merino flock (No 15 in the Merino stud register).

The business is expected to attract strong offshore interest, given the current global investor focus on "soft commodities" and large-scale farming packages.

"Mungadal" and "Steam Plains" are among the longest-held properties in the Twynam stable, having been acquired as part of the Amatil Group's Naroo Pastoral Company portfolio in 1979.

Comprising about 42,000 hectares and 37,000ha respectively, both properties have been used by Twynam for sheep and cattle grazing and irrigated cropping.

"Cobran" was a 31,219ha property when bought for $21.7 million in 2002 from receivers for John Elliott's Australian Rice Holdings, but a subsequent sale in 2004 reduced the area to around 17,000ha.

At one time Australia's biggest rice farm, "Cobran" has been used by Twynam mainly for irrigated cropping of rice and wheat.

The sale of these three properties will reduce Twynam's Riverina presence to Gundaline Station (now incorporating "Toganmain" and "Cooinbil") at Carrathool and "Merrowie" at Hillston.

* From The Land, NSW's leading weekly farming newspaper.


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