Onetime pastoral powerhouse Twynam Agricultural Group has wound up its phased exit from Australian broadacre agriculture, with the sale of its Lachlan River properties for more than $115 million.
The Kahlbetzer family-owned company last week confirmed the sale of its Jemalong Station and “Jemalong Citrus” holdings at Forbes, and “Merrowie” at Hillston, following a month-long marketing campaign.
All were sold to foreign interests, which means the sales are subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board, although this is not expected to be a problem – especially as Twynam itself is a foreign-owned entity.
The sale was handled by Gary Johnston of Johnston Rural Group, Forbes and Bruce Gunning of Ray White Rural International in Sydney, and resulted in 50 inquiries and multiple bids for all properties.
Twynam said in a statement that in all three cases, the accepted offer was “the highest offer received for the land and water components”.
The sale ends nearly half a century of agricultural investment in Australia by Twynam, and winds up a 10-year property divestment program that began in 2008 with the sale of “Boolcarrol”/“Milton Downs” at Bellata.
At that time, the company was one of the biggest landholders in NSW, with some 430,000ha spread across such prominent stations as “Mungadal”, “Gundaline”, “Buttabone” and “Collymongle”.
It leaves the Argentina-based Kahlbetzer family (headed in Australia by Twynam chairman Johnny Kahlbetzer) with just two cattle properties on the Southern Highlands, and a 280ha portion of “Jemalong” that is hosting a solar generation pilot project.
Both Jemalong Station and “Jemalong Citrus” were bought by Optifarm Pty Ltd, a company owned by investors in the Netherlands which made its first Australian agricultural purchase last August with the purchase of the 4000ha “Uri Park” at Darlington Point.
Jemalong Station is one of Twynam’s longest-held properties, having been acquired in 1979 as one of a portfolio of station properties formally held by British Tobacco’s Naroo Pastoral Company.
Comprising 13,387 hectares including 2384ha of developed irrigation, the property is home to the Twynam Angus stud and also the Jemalong Polo Complex with its playing fields and equine facilities.
“Jemalong Citrus” was hived off as a separate 360ha entity in 2005 and is now an orchard of 170,000 trees producing more than 10,000 tonnes of oranges a year for a juicing contract.
The two properties were sold with 13,742 megalitres of Jemalong Irrigation (Lachlan River) and groundwater entitlements.
Optifarm intends to further develop the two properties, by establishing additional areas of higher-value permanent plantings with a view to more profitably deploying their water assets.
The properties will be managed by the Moree-based Customised Farm Management, which also manages the Forbes irrigation property “Bergen Park” for an off-farm investor.
Twynam’s third remaining Lachlan frontage property, “Merrowie”, was bought by a United States institutional investor trading as MRA Merrowie Pty Ltd.
Comprising today 32,730ha, “Merrowie” has been built to its present size by successive acquisitions since being bought as a 12,000ha parcel by Twynam in 1991.
The property was among the first to grow cotton at Hillston, and today boasts just under 10,000ha of irrigation, backed by 17,217ML of river and groundwater entitlements.