SEVEN farms on the south-eastern edge of the New South Wales grainbelt have been sold to local farming families by Westchester Group of Australia after 12 years of ownership by the investment-fund manager.
Located in the Henty, Culcairn and Walbundrie districts between Wagga Wagga and Albury, the farms cover 4174 hectares in total, and were marketed as the Southern Riverina Aggregation via an expressions-of-interest campaign through Inglis Rural Property.
They sold for an average price of around $12,000 per hectare, in line with the strongest prices seen for south-west slopes country in recent months.
While one buyer is based in Victoria and has livestock interests, buyers on the other blocks were all either established or establishing farmers from the districts.
The aggregation attracted interest from corporate, institutional, domestic and international investors, and drew more than 170 inquiries and around 35 farm inspections.
Blocks in the aggregation range in size from 123ha to 2161ha, and were offered in one line or separately, and some blocks attracted up to 10 offers.
The properties are proven producers of cereals and canola, and were offered jointly or separately.
“We were overwhelmed by the demand for these holdings, and whilst the opportunity to secure a large portfolio in these regions was attractive to the corporate investment groups, the local farming families were the most competitive,” Inglis Rural Property sales manager Sam Triggs said.
Westchester chief executive officer Matt Bull said each of the farms had been leased to local family farmers since they were purchased by Westchester.
“It is fantastic to know that some of these parties will become the new owners of some of the properties after leasing them for the past five to 10 years,” Mr Bull said.
“The outcome of this sale proves that institutional capital and local farmers can successfully work together, and although this land has been foreign owned for over 10 years, our organisation is delighted to be returning the title deeds to local family farmers.”
Mr Bull said the investment of “patient capital” in farmland has yielded a double-digit internal rate of return which has exceeded original underwriting expectations.
Properties within the Southern Riverina Aggregation were owned by Westchester through its IAI Australia Fund II Pty Ltd.