Have you got a half a billion just lying around? Well then you could buy this monster piece of land.
Excitement is building in one area of South Australia, as a Middle Eastern investor has decided to up sticks and sell a vast stretch of property, as reported by abc.net.
Hassad Foods, a Middle Eastern Investor group, have decided to sell up some of their vast property holdings in the country. News reports suggest that the company will sell a majority of the quarter million hectares they currently own. The investor group, who have an agricultural portfolio estimated to be worth over half a billion dollars, have decided to get themselves out of the property game in the region.
The company had owned over 40 properties across five states in Australia in total, though two of which were sold recently. The company says this does not mean a downscale of investment on the card, and pledged their commitment to the agriculture sector in Australia.
"In no way does this change in strategy represent any sort of withdrawal or downscale of Hassad's investment in, or commitment to, the Australian agricultural sector," John McKillop, Hassad Australia CEO, said.
The company, owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, was first set up by the Qataraí government in 2008 in a bid to combat increasing food supply demands.
The sale was described by CEO John McKillop as the next phase in the company’s investment strategy. This strategy includes expanding their business into the food processing markets.
"The new leadership plans to redirect the business away from pure primary production to a strategic blend of both farming and investments across the sheepmeat and grain supply chains," he said.
He continued by saying the sale of these properties will help them to diversify their markets as well as strengthening their Australian operations.
"The sale of these properties will allow us to do that and to further diversify and strengthen our Australian operations, which is something we look forward to at this time of great opportunity for premium agricultural products."
The news has been received positively by conservative politicians who previously accused the company of being “owned by a government that funds our enemies”. One such conservative politician, Cory Bernardi, said in June of this year that the company should be forced to sell their holdings in the country.
"Why would we allow Qatar to protect its food security when it's undermining our national security?" he asked.
If you want to get your hands on the property, you are definitely not alone. Locals have been expressing great interest in the lands, with a bidding battle expected.
Sale manager Danny Thomas, says he expected the portfolio to exceed $20million. He added that farmers working close to the lands have already expressed an interest in buying the land.
"We're thinking that it'll have appeal to not only to a lot of the local families on a break-up basis, but also to portfolio purchasers who are looking for significant scale in a tightly held region," he said.
Mr Thomas added that Hassad Australia are selling the properties in a bid to expand into value adding and food processing, rather than just farming.
"Hassad, like a lot of institutional investors, critically appraise their portfolio from time to time and Hassad are a very significant investor in Australia across most states...They're now looking to the vertical [model] and becoming a more integrated food business and getting into some food and fibre processing to be able to take Australian product to the rest of the world.”, he said.
He concluded, "This is all about transforming the company and making some strategic decisions about how they deploy their capital. There's nothing more sinister than that."