Coal miner Pembroke Resources has beaten local and offshore agricultural investors to acquire the well-known Iffley, Deveril and Twenty Mile cattle stations near Moranbah in central Queensland for around $50 million.
Pembroke, which is backed by global private equity group Denham Capital, acquired the 41,500 hectare aggregation from the Australian arm of US coal miner Peabody Energy. Peabody put the three cattle stations up for sale in April last year at the same time as it exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.
The three properties will continue to be operated as cattle stations until at least 2023 with a long-term occupation agreement in place to Australian Cattle and Beef Holdings, which manages the cattle interests of one of the country’s biggest beef producers the Acton family, previous owners of Iffley Station.
Beyond 2023, they will add to Pembroke’s extensive coal mining interests in the Bowen Basin region. Pembroke acquired the Olive Downs Complex south-east of Moranbah from Peabody and CITIC Resources for $120 million in 2016.
Pembroke, founded and led by former Gloucester Coal CEO Barry Tudor, is seeking approval from the Queensland government to operate a $1 billion mega mine at Olive Downs capable of producing 14 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year.
The sale of Iffley, Deveril and Twenty Mile was negotiated by CBRE rural agents Chris Holgar and Geoff Warriner on behalf of Peabody.
“The sale of these well-known central Queensland properties is a strong indication that the state’s mining sector is picking up, underpinned by increased global prices for Australian resources,” Mr Holgar said.
“These prominent properties are well-known in central Queensland, having been under the stewardship of some of Australia’s most established and renowned cattle families.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the properties were purchased for mining purposes, the sale also highlighted the underlying strength of the agricultural market with the public expression of interest sale process generating exceptional enquiry from domestic and foreign purchasers of high-quality agricultural assets.”
The three cattle properties are located about 38 kilometres south-east of Moranbah and 240 kilometres north-west of Rockhampton – the recognised beef capital of Australia.
Peabody took control of them in late 2011 following its $4.9 billion takeover of Macarthur Coal. Just prior to that deal, Macarthur Coal had acquired 26,000 hectares of Iffley from the Actons for $38 million.
A year later the Acton family sold the Moray Downs cattle station to Indian energy and mining company Adani for a reported $110 million.
Evan Acton, who took over the running of the family’s cattle empire in 2015 following the sudden death of his brother Graeme Acton, ranked 146th on the 2017 Financial Review Rich List worth $490 million.
Together with his late brother, Mr Acton built the family’s cattle company into one of the country’s largest private beef industry producers with eight properties and 150,000 cattle.