New Forests and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) have agreed to buy an Australian farm asset, Lawson Grains, from Macquarie Asset Management.

Financial details of the transaction are confidential. However, specialist agriculture land agents involved with marketing the asset when it became available in March this year said demand from institutional investors for such assets suggested it could fetch between A$550m and $600m (€340m and €372m).

Lawson Grains, one of Australia’s leading corporate grain growers, owns a 90,500 arable hectare agricultural land estate across New South Wales and Western Australia. 

Mark Rogers, New Forests’ senior managing director (Australia, New Zealand, US), said the 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”.

Ben Hawkins, senior vice president and head of infrastructure and renewable resources at AIMCo, 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.”

AIMCo had a long history of making sustainable investments into Australia on behalf of its clients, he said.

In 2011, AIMCo and New Forest purchased the Great Southern Plantations timberland for A$415m.

Macquarie Asset Management is divesting Lawson Grains at the conclusion of a 10-year investment mandate with its investors.

Liz O’Leary, Macquarie Asset Management head of agriculture, said: “This transaction demonstrates the natural evolution of agriculture as an increasingly mature and attractive alternative investment class.

“It provides a vote of confidence for investors regarding the opportunity to invest in agriculture businesses and, ultimately, to realise the investments in the same way they are used to doing in other asset classes.”

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