Canada’s PSP Investments buys more cattle stations in Australia

Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) has acquired more cattle stations in Australia, taking its investment in the sector to almost AUD120m (€90m) so far this year.

PSP invests in Australia through its joint venture partner Hewitt Cattle Australia, a Brisbane-based agricultural company.

The partners’ newest acquisition is a 15% stake in an Australian organic beef company, Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat.

The transaction price was not disclosed, but is believed to be around AUD50m.

The purchase will see Hewitt Cattle take over Arcadian’s 28,000-plus hectare cattle station Oakwood, in central Queensland, and an irrigation property in south-western NSW.

Mick Hewitt, chief executive of Hewitt Cattle Australia, declined to comment. But a PSP spokesperson told IPE Real Assets that PSP Investments’ Natural Resources group targets long-term investments in the agriculture and timber sectors globally.

The spokesperson said: “While mainly a direct investor, the group focuses on developing strong partnerships with best-in-class, like-minded local operators who we typically support in an aggregation strategy, as is the case with our local partner in the Australian cattle industry since 2014 – the Hewitt family.”

When the partnership qirh Hewitt Cattle Australia was first made public, it was said that PSP intended to invest at least AUD250m in Australian agriculture.

Hewitt Cattle Australia made what it described as “a transformational transaction” in March this year, when it purchased two of the largest cattle stations in the Northern Territory for AUD50m.

That investment took total area under its management to more than one million hectares housing 750,000 head of cattle.

The joint venture made its first investment with the acquisition of two assets in Queensland in April in 2015.

Australian cattle farming has attracted renewed institutional interest in recent times on the back of growing demand for “clean and green” food products, including beef, from markets such as China.

The PSP spokesperson said: “We invest alongside partners who share this philosophy and are committed to implementing best ESG practices, particularly with respect to employee health and safety, animal welfare, the environment and sustainability.”

As at 31 March 2017, PSP had CAD3.7bn (€2.5bn invested in natural resources – 2.7% of its total assets and below its long-term target of 5% – with just under CAD1.3bn invested in agriculture, the spokesperson said.

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