Heavy Trade in the Biggest Beef Company

By Hari Yellina
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Photo by Nicholas Cappello on Unsplash

Yesterday, over a million shares of Australia’s largest beef company were traded. The ASX activity drove the Australian Agricultural Company’s share price to values not seen since June 2017. The company’s return to profit, successful feed growing seasons across its large holdings, and record cattle prices are all evident reasons for the price increase to $1.74 per share. There is also conjecture concerning the plans of billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, who recently purchased 32 million shares for $35 million, giving him a stake in AACo of more than 5%.

In other financial news, the financial powerhouse behind Queensland-based farm shareholder Laguna Bay Pastoral Company has pumped in additional cash. The Washington State Investment Board, based in the United States, has committed another $A350 million to Laguna Bay’s newest fundraising effort. After yesterday’s 1.1 million share transaction, the stock market price for AACo has opened on strong demand. In early trade, prices rose marginally to $1.76. Another prominent family, the Holmes a Courts, increased their interest in AACo earlier this month through Paul Holmes a Court’s Heytesbury Holdings.

AACo now holds a 7% ownership stake in Heytesbury. In fact, the organisation is Australia’s largest integrated beef and cattle producer, as well as the country’s oldest continually functioning enterprise. Moreover, it owns and operates 6.4 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory, including properties, feedlots, and farms. Grain-fed beef and Wagyu beef are AACo’s specialties. Additionally, Tavistock Group, an international investment firm, is AACo’s largest stakeholder. Meanwhile, the Washington State Investment Board, based in the United States, continues to back Laguna Bay’s investment strategy. Teachers, school personnel, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and judges are among the public employees whose pension funds are managed by the board.

The Woorndoo aggregation, which covers 3355 hectares (8290 acres) in Victoria’s Western District, was sold for $70 million to two farming families late last year. Laguna Bay is a 2016 investment vehicle that is mostly funded by a Washington pension fund. Banongill Station in the Western District was sold for roughly $80 million by the agricultural fund management in 2020. In 2016, it made its first purchase, a historic station. In 2018, it spent more than $50 million in dairy farms in Tasmania’s North West. In 2019, it was also a part of a deal that saw the Canadian Public Sector Pension Investment Board (or PSP Investments) purchase almond orchards and water rights in northern Victoria.

The large Canadian fund oversees the federal government’s pension schemes, as well as the pension plans of the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Reserve Force, and is a major owner of Australian farm holdings. PSP Investments has more than $A200 billion in assets under management. Laguna Bay has put money into combining a number of mixed farming operations into a state-of-the-art raised bed facility.


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