Australia North Star Pastoral's Maryfield, Limbunya stations tipped to sell for at least $150m

22:15  22 november  2020
22:15  22 november  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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North Star Pastoral ' s Colin Ross, one of the country's biggest landowners, has put two of his prized Northern Territory cattle stations on the market, amid a surge Price expectations are understood to be in excess of $ 150 million for North Star 's Limbunya and Maryfield stations , which cover 670,000

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Maryfield Station, south-west of Katherine, has a 10,000-head feedlot and bitumen access. (Supplied: Nutrien Harcourts) © Provided by ABC NEWS Maryfield Station, south-west of Katherine, has a 10,000-head feedlot and bitumen access. (Supplied: Nutrien Harcourts)

Two significant Northern Territory cattle stations — including the home of one of the largest feedlots in northern Australia — are up for sale and expected to fetch more than $150 million combined.

The owner of North Star Pastoral, Colin Ross, is selling Maryfield Station, 100 kilometres south-east of Katherine, as well as Limbunya Station, in the Victoria River District.

The properties cover more than 650,000 hectares and will be sold with 50,000 head of Brahman and Brahman-cross cattle.

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Maryfield Station owned by North Star Pastoral Company in the Northern Territory. (Daniel Fitzgerald). Colin Ross from North Star Pastoral Company, which owns Maryfield , Hodgson River and Limbunya Stations said he wanted the right to veto mining and gas company activity on his land.

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Maryfield Station has a newly built 10,000-head capacity feedlot — one of only a handful in the NT — and bitumen access, a rarity for many NT stations.

Danny Thomas from CBRE Agribusiness said it was the right time to sell the properties.

"To really maximise the benefits of what has been developed on Maryfield, it needs people with greater resources that can add cash and cattle and take it to the next level," he said.

"Colin [Ross] is keen for someone else to take on the stewardship of the asset from here.

"[Maryfield and Limbunya] are the industrial portion of [North Star Pastoral's] portfolio and they tie beautifully together."

Potential interest from buyers

Mr Thomas said he anticipated the properties would sell for "in excess of $150 million" and attract a range of interested parties.

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"While we think the properties sit really well together, we are happy to separate them as well," he said.

"It is an international expression of interest, so it will embrace a whole lot of interest from some foreign groups.

"Having said that, one of the most active segments at the moment is the domestic market and there are some people there that could really transform their business if they pulled on a facility like Maryfield.

"Some of the live export-orientated businesses may think about it, and of course there are a lot of new entrants from Argentina, South Africa and Vietnam.

"This facility would make a lot of sense to them."

Rinehart looks to sell

Last week Gina Rinehart's company confirmed it intended to divest several properties from its portfolio of 25 across northern Australia.

"Under the direction of executive chairman Gina Rinehart, Hancock Agriculture has experienced significant growth in recent years," the statement said.

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"Property acquisitions have been followed by significant investment focussed on improving cattle herd quality, employee safety and animal welfare, using technology and innovation as a key platform for improvement across the portfolio.

"Given inter alia the significant improvements and value creation that has been achieved from these investments, the company will now look to divest several properties to focus on more agricultural and cattle opportunities."

Two of Ms Rinehart's properties share a boundary with Limbunya Station.

The famed Wave Hill Station and its outstation Cattle Creek, which cover more than 1.2 million hectares, have also recently been listed for sale, with expectations the properties and their 40,000 cattle could make $100 million.

Mr Thomas said he saw the potential sale of Hancock Agriculture's properties and other stations not as competition for North Star's properties, but as an opportunity for potential buyers.

"For a decent-sized fund or corporate that wants to come in and really get themselves set with enough breeding country to feed into Maryfield, they can do that all at once here," he said.

"That would often take generations to be able to achieve, so it's very much an opportunity rather than competition."

In 2019, a bid by North Start Pastoral to clear more than 20,000 hectares of native vegetation on Maryfield Station — in what would have been the NT's largest single land-clearing permit — was knocked back after being challenged in the NT Supreme Court.

Maryfield was subsequently granted a clearing permit for 4,544 hectares, and was last week granted a licence to extract 3,392 megalitres of groundwater per year for agricultural use.

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