Bank has 'no idea' on farming, say investors

28 Apr, 2014 05:00 AM
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14
 
File photo.
We are very unhappy with the way the bank and receivers have handled the sale
File photo.

THE sale of one of southern Australia's largest dairy properties, once estimated to be worth more than $30 million, has come under fire from potential investors, agents and the original owners.

Pedra Branca Dairying, a 1229-hectare farm with up to 2000 cows at Mount Schank, Mount Gambier in South Australia, is still looking for a buyer 12 months after being put in receivership by National Australia Bank. The receiver is PPB Advisory.

"We are very unhappy with the way the bank and receivers have handled the sale," a former senior Elders Real Estate agent handing the sale, claimed.

"We could never get the bank to come back to us with a price. There were never any specific counter-offers made. People want to know a price were never told – it was most unusual."

The agent, one of four senior salesmen on the deal, has left the company and would not be named. Elders is no longer handling the account.

Last year's combination of ­rock-bottom farm gate prices and soaring production costs pushed several other operators to the brink in the billion-dollar dairy farm industry.

Owners of other properties placed into administration are also bitter about the way their businesses were taken from them and the huge costs racked up in their sale.

Bank inaction 'devastating'

Jason Doman, the fourth generation owner of Pedra that has been expanded over three properties, says he and his family have been devastated by the lack of communication from the bank.

There were no verbal or ­written warnings, mediation or default notices alerting him to the financial peril, or ways of working out of administration.

"I'm drawing on any savings I had, living on the smell of an oily rag and doing everything I can to achieve a ­positive outcome for everyone," he said.

Mr Doman is also increasingly concerned about administrator fees and the expense of having an external manager run the property. He says only 1000 cows are being milked.

PPB Advisory did not respond to The Australian Financial Review's queries.

A leading investor wanting to buy the property, and who wished to remain anonymous, said he was "frustrated and bewildered" by the bank and receiver's lack of information and ­communication over several bids.

"They have no idea of agriculture and no sensitivity to the plight of second and third-generation farmers that have a deep love and understanding of their properties and would be the best people left to run the properties in any ­circumstances," he said.

A NAB spokesman said bank had more than 150 years of agricultural banking experience.

"We are committed to supporting good quality agribusinesses and assess all lending on a case-by-case basis," he said. "We encourage customers to ­contact us sooner rather than later if they run into difficulties, so we can work with them to assist and ­potentially solve issues."

Owners of other dairy properties forced into administration by a mix of rising costs and falling prices have also criticised the costs, delays and administration of banks and administrators.

"Their head offices have no ­experience of farming and seasonal problems that can arise with cash flow," said the owner of an 800-cow dairy farm near Colac, in Victoria, that is also under administration.

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READER COMMENTS

mark
28/04/2014 8:22:10 AM

Banks understand when they are carry full equity risk for a loan.
chelseaf
28/04/2014 12:46:16 PM

great article- a real estate agent and a land owner commenting on financial matters! Personally, i go to the butcher for my financial advice.
RWH
28/04/2014 2:44:45 PM

Do you really want us to believe that the first piece of correspondence a borrower got was a possession notice? The last thing any bank wants to do is run a farm but they will do it to protect their investment.
stockman
28/04/2014 4:00:32 PM

The bank involved seems to have more foreclosures than any other bank. Why?
Bushie Bill
28/04/2014 7:09:37 PM

But neither do most farmers...
Discusted
28/04/2014 10:47:52 PM

What an ignorant comment chelseaf! The banks and their receivers are a cancer in this country and they absolutely destroy any equity that is left in any business they get their hooks into! The first government that has the stones to take them on over this issue will have my vote! There are hundreds of horror stories about receivership's.
FFS
29/04/2014 6:31:03 AM

Then why don't you show them how it's done, BB? Too gutless? No money? No idea? Clueless?
Frank Blunt
29/04/2014 8:01:14 AM

Yes FFS they are some of Bushie's best attributes.
bronwyn
29/04/2014 8:06:06 AM

Farmer financial failures have more to do with the matters raised by David Leyonhjelm today, (Input Costs and Government Regulations including for labor Awards) than anything else.
wtf
29/04/2014 11:06:02 AM

just remember that banks have all their clients figures, at best we use abares surveys or talk to one another. Most dismiss u as doom and gloom if u talk honestly, but "talking it up" only delays positive change. surely if the story is bad across the board they have some accountability or due diligence to suggest change is needed, eg govt reform. If they know most of their clients are in a bind, yet refuse to acknowledge the figures or release them, they should be in some part held to account? moral hazard should be considered important.
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