NEW Forests and Canada’s Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) have reached an agreement to buy Macquarie Asset Management’s Lawson Grains.
The Lawson Grains portfolio covers a total of 90,500 hectares of cropping country in New South Wales and Western Australia.
With annual production of more than 200,000 tonnes of wheat, barley, canola and pulses combined, it is one of Australia’s largest grain producers.
Under the transaction there will be no significant changes to the Lawson Grains management team in its Albury headquarters or to current on–farm teams.
Headquartered in Sydney and founded in 2005, New Forests is a global forestry investment manager working in sustainable forestry and related sectors.
New Forests manages forestry assets in Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia and the United States.
“Lawson Grains is a high quality and diversified agricultural business with an experienced management team,” New Forests senior managing director (Australia, New Zealand, US) Mark Rogers said.
“We look forward to working with the management team to continue to build the business and add value.
“New Forests will bring its sustainability approach to Lawson Grains, managing for sustainable agricultural production and natural climate solutions including soil carbon and native revegetation and focusing on community engagement.
“This investment is a natural extension to New Forests’ landscape management approach, ensuring integrated production across Australia’s varied landscape, and backed by our valued client AIMCo.”
Macquarie Asset Management is divesting Lawson Grains at the conclusion of a 10–year investment mandate with its investors.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement for the sale of Lawson Grains, which we are proud to have built on behalf of our investors over the past 10 years,” Macquarie Asset Management head of agriculture Liz O’Leary said.
“This transaction demonstrates the natural evolution of agriculture as an increasingly mature and attractive alternative investment class.
“Realising this successful investment will enable our business to look ahead to the next opportunity.”
Macquarie Asset Management maintains a significant presence in Australian agriculture through its Paraway Pastoral Company and Viridis Ag operating companies.
AIMCo is one of Canada’s largest institutional investors, with significant experience in real assets, including more than 10 years of investing with New Forests in sustainable forestry and carbon markets in Australia, New Zealand and the US.
AIMCo’s major investment in Australia with New Forests, the Forestry Investment Trust, includes approximately 9000ha of canola and wheat crops in WA.
“AIMCo has a long history of making sustainable investments into Australia on behalf of its clients,” AIMCo senior vice-president, head of Infrastructure and Renewable Resources Ben Hawkins said.
“The opportunity to acquire Lawson Grains, a fully integrated grains business built on quality assets, people and systems presents an attractive opportunity for AIMCo’s Renewable Resource portfolio to add a significant core asset.
The completion of this acquisition is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval, with New Forests being a minority shareholder.
The value of the deal has not been made public but is believed to be in excess of $550 million.
Lawson Grains listed in March with LAWD agents Danny Thomas, Col Medway and John McKillop.
The portfolio represents more than 70 farms acquired over the investment’s life which are operated under 10 aggregations.
The NSW aggregations are: Kealandi at Moree; Uah at Forbes; Grassmere at Oaklands, and Borambil near Rand.
The WA aggregations are: Walyoo at Dandaragan; St Leonards and Wongan at Wongan Hills; Jerry South at Jerramungup; Gunnadoo at Jacup, and Hakea near Munglinup.