MARKETS SPECTATOR: AACo sharpens its focus

Australian Agricultural Company hopes to sell a Queensland Cattle station for more than the $12.75 million so it can concentrate on its Northern Territory abattoir.

Brighton Downs, a 420,000-hectare cattle property and its 4,500 male cattle are on the market. Its owner, Australian Agricultural Company, is selling the station, which can run 9,000 head of cattle, on the channels of the Diamantina River in Queensland. Australia’s oldest company, established in 1824, is building Australia’s first abattoir outside the east coast in Darwin and wants to focus its business in the Northern Territory.    

Australian Agricultural is the biggest cattle owner in Australia with a herd of 650,000. It owns 1.1 per cent of Australia’s landmass, 17.2 million hectares. Brighton Downs is one of its 19 cattle stations. The company hopes its Darwin slaughter house will process 1,000 head of cattle every day and put the meat on ships bound for south-east Asia.

Cattle prices have plunged since the 2011 suspension of the export of live cattle and along with it the value of cattle stations. The value of Australian agricultural land has fallen by 25 per cent since 2008. Still, Australian Agricultural was offered $12.75 million for Brighton Downs in December 2010 that it describes as a breeding, growing and fattening cattle property. The company rejected the 2010 offer and hopes for more from buyers that may be wealthy individuals or companies such as S. Kidman & Co.

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