Australian mega grain farm up for sale

16-05-2018 | |
Australian mega grain farm up for sale. Photo: Dreamstime
Australian mega grain farm up for sale. Photo: Dreamstime

One of Australia’s biggest arable farms extending to 200,000 hectares has just been put on the market for sale with a hefty price tag of between AUS$?75 million and AUS$?85 million (US$?56m and US$?64m).

The complete farming portfolio belonging to Western Australia’s grain giant John Nicoletti has been put up for sale after he decided to retire from grain farming aged 64.

This farm sale represents the biggest offering of a single parcel of broadacre farming land ever to be sold in Australia and is being handled by CBRE head of agribusiness Danny Thomas.

30 farms included

Included in the sale are 76,575 ha of freehold land, of which 62,768 hectares are arable, plus 127,018ha of leasehold land, of which 95,040 ha are arable, and which will be assigned to the purchaser. The land is based on over 30 farms located at John’s home town of Merredin and also at Bodallin, Moorine Rock, Westonia, Southern Cross, Mukinbudin, Bullfinch and Marvel Loch, plus Daisy Downs at Mullewa. The sale also includes a flock of 50,000 merino ewes plus progeny, which John has built up over a number of years. It also includes an extensive list of fit for purpose, near new equipment, including 14 headers, 12 seeders, 7 sprayers, 13 large tractors and 7 smaller tractors, plus 4 speed tillers.

There are also around 25 dwellings in the sale plus a silo complex with 15,000 metric tonnes of vertical storage adjacent to CBH at Merredin.

Not the first sale

This is not the first time Mr Nicoletti has featured in the news regarding a farm sale as 3 years ago he sold 70,000 hectares for AUS$ 36 million (US$ 27m) to an Asian businessman to pay off some debts that had mounted after a string of poor harvest seasons.

A 10 year lease-back agreement for that land was put in place between the buyer, Hong Kong-based Chinese owned, CK Life Sciences, and Mr Nicoletti. The remaining 7 years will be assigned to the buyers in the current sale as part of the leasehold portion. Although Mr Nicoletti is giving up farming he says he is certainly not retiring and is going to put more energy into his 6 John Deere dealerships situated throughout Australia’s wheatbelt and the company headquarters in Perth.

Focus on John Deere dealerships

Mr Nicoletti said: “I’m 64, going on 65. If I was 10 years younger I wouldn’t be doing this. I have 1 son and 2 daughters and all of them already have plenty of land.

“I feel the time is right to exit farming. Having spoken to a number of people around the globe the conclusion is that there is currently a lot of money to deploy to agriculture now. Agriculture has a bit of a flavour to it now so I decided now is the right time. I don’t have to sell but it’s all about timing. Let’s see if it sells or not,” he said. Mr Nicoletti says planting will go ahead as normal this year setting the crops up for a new buyer. Although he is intending to exit from farming John wants to spend more time at his 6 John Deere dealerships and the company headquarters based in Perth. He added: “I have 110 people working at my 6 John Deere dealerships and the headquarters in Perth. I want to give that side of the business more attention. “I am sure there is a buyer out there for the farm. It doesn’t matter who I sell to but it won’t necessarily be to the highest bidder. I want to make sure the buyer is the right buyer for the land and district.

“There are a further 25 people working full time on the farms as well as additional seasonal staff. Some of them have been with me a long time. I have been successful but only because I surrounded myself with good people to work with. I also want to make sure the staff will be well supported by any new buyer.”

According to the sales agent the farm, with over 200,000 hectares or 500,000 acres, is a world class asset offering.

According to the sales agent the farm, with over 200,000 hectares or 500,000 acres, is a world class asset offering.

Unique offering of scale for mixed farming

According to the sales agent this is a unique opportunity for a buyer to step into a going concern operation of a large scale. Danny Thomas said: “This is a unique offering of scale for mixed farming in Australia. At over 200,000 hectares or 500,000 acres, this is a world class asset offering an incoming purchaser the ability to optimise operations and influence price whilst stepping into a genuine going-concern operation complete with experienced personnel, fit for purpose plant and equipment and 50,000 merino ewes. We think it will be eagerly sought by a number of larger institutions or corporations.” The selling agents are actively promoting this massive farm for sale internationally in the hope of finding a global buyer to take the business forward.

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Chris McCullough Freelance multi-media journalist