Hassad wraps up purchase

03 May, 2012 02:00 AM
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THE purchase of 40,000ha at Telopea Downs, in far western Victoria is close to the final piece of the land purchasing puzzle for Hassad Australia, who’s parent company Hassad Foods is owned by the Qatar Government.

After officially confirming the Telopea Downs purchase last week, Hassad Australia chief executive Tom McKeon said the company was well advanced in its business plan.

He said Hassad Australia now owned 250,000ha of farmland over Queensland, NSW, Victoria and WA.

“We’re getting towards the end of our business plan now in terms of purchasing land.”

Mr McKeon said since establishing itself in Australia three years ago, the company had been particularly selective about where it bought land.

“The properties are spread over a wide geographic area, so we limit our exposure to production risk – we don’t want to be too exposed in any one area for climate, disease and other risk reasons.”

With this in mind, the company now has a property at Cunnamulla in south-western Queensland, properties at Warren and Trangie in central western NSW, Canowindra on the southern slopes in NSW, Moyston and Strathdownie in Victoria’s Western District, with the new Telopea Downs purchase in Victoria’s Wimmera, and Bindi Bindi, near Moora, Jerramungup and Esperance in Western Australia.

“The focus will be on grain production and livestock, in particular sheep, we wanted to put together relatively large properties in each area to bolt together an aggregation large enough to achieve economies of scale.”

Hassad Australia is predominately east coast focused, with just 27,000ha in WA, along with one part of the Telopea Downs aggregation falls just across the border into SA.

There was a deliberate decision making process in terms of which areas the company selected.

“The plan is based on both a cost / benefit analysis and the reliability of the area,” Mr McKeon.

“The risk profile is something we look at closely.

Even with the purchase of Telopea Downs, traditionally regarded as marginal country by many Wimmera farmers, Mr McKeon said research had found the area was actually very reliable.

“It might not be a high rainfall area, but it does have a reliable productivity which is attractive to Hassad Australia.”

He also said the opportunity to value-add the investment, in the case of Telopea Downs by clay-spreading, which has become a popular practice in the area, improving productivity considerably, was also a factor.

“We’ve been very strategic about where we have invested, we’ve chosen places that have the potential to be aggregated and improved.”

Finally, Mr McKeon said a decision was made regarding how potential purchases would strategically fit in with the nearby properties.

“In Victoria, for example, we have two properties that can get pretty wet, so Telopea is a good offset, which is a lot drier and warmer.

We will be looking at ways the farms can complement each other.”

He said the company would focus on grains, primarily hard wheat production and livestock, in particular meat breed sheep.

Most of the east coast properties Cunnamulla in QLD, Warren, Trangie and Canowindra in NSW, Moyston and Strathdownie in VIC, will be predominantly livestock, while the cropping will be done at the Central West NSW properties and in WA.

The Strathdownie property, ‘Kaladbro’, also includes a feedlot.

“Cattle will complement the sheep in some areas, but sheep are certainly the main focus.”

“It’s the same with the cropping, we will be growing other rotational crops, but hard wheat is the focus.”

The split across the entire business will roughly be a third cropping and two-thirds livestock,.

Mr McKeon did not comment on how much grain the company would produce, but based on local yields in the areas the company is cropping it is expected it would come in between 170,000 and 180,000 tonnes in an average year if wheat was the major crop.

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READER COMMENTS

Tigerdicky
3/05/2012 3:30:36 AM

We might as well just give Australia to these foreigners and be done with it!
The Spectator
3/05/2012 6:52:16 AM

How much more do we need to 'give' away to foreigh ownership? Next thing our grandchildren will be under rule from another country. Try buying any real estate in China or Qatar!!!! And, I'm presuming, that because Aust no longer owns the land, the export income from the grain will no longer exist! Hopefully, the company does say Hassad Australia, so maybe we will receive some of the income tax if it's not buried in the corporate empire!
Reap What You Sow
3/05/2012 7:17:18 AM

I'm curious. What would Tigerdicky have preferred? The business was on the market. The options were that it remains on the market and ceases to function...or it is sold. What's the problem? You don't like that it was sold, or that it was sold to foreigners? I doubt there was much of a choice.
nimby
3/05/2012 8:01:55 AM

Any foreign nation interested in invading Australia just has to have enough cash, and they have property rights! No warfare, no conflict, no weapons. If Japan tried to invade Australia now, they could if they had enough money. Why did the Anzacs in World War 2 bother? We can be invaded by stealth. With Australia's food security not as secure as supposed, then this sale is a betrayal by our government. Our sovereignty should be promoted, not sold off to the highest bidder.
Tigerdicky
3/05/2012 8:48:48 AM

Reap what you sow, when the time comes that we are all starving to death due to the sell off of our country - the penny may drop for you!
Loc Hey
3/05/2012 9:42:38 AM

RWYS and one day I hope you will. Perhaps if primary producers were paid a fair price and there were tax incentives and less red ( BS ) tape the place would not have been up for sale in the first place.
Hungry?
3/05/2012 11:34:46 AM

The question is not why so many farms are being sold to foreign investment, but why are so many farms being sold and why has Aussie investment lost faith in the agricultural industry?!!
Bushie Bill
3/05/2012 11:39:32 AM

I am astounded by the lack of intelligence shown by the nay-sayers. (Not entirely true, I am never astounded by Locco's lack of intelligent comment.) What difference does it make who owns the land? It is on Australian sovereign territory and that cannot change. Foreign landowning individuals, companies, qangos and governments are all subject to Australian law, including Australian tax law. They are all subject to the basic laws of economics (and in fact cannot and will not survive if they try to abandon those basic laws). And here is a tip for you; food security is a load of self-serving crap.
John Niven
3/05/2012 1:14:40 PM

The point RWYS is that remaining Aust farmers or any business for that matter are too bloody broke to compete.
Ranger
3/05/2012 7:24:49 PM

This is a fool of a country, politicians we cannot control, and who totally ignore the public whether you vote for them or not, they break their election promises almost from the beginning, they pass the buck from state to state including the federal, each state leases the ground from under our feet without our consent even if you own your land. They are all financially as well as morally bankrupt and that is why they have to sell us out to foreign interests 9 governments for 23 million people, its an international joke.
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