London-based Hasma Capital has sold its Billabong Aggregation near Mulwala in the NSW southern Riverina for more than $20 million.
A group of wealthy local dryland farmers clubbed together to fend off institutional investors and foreign interests to buy the 2150-hectare Murray River fronting mixed-use farming property, plus crops and livestock.
Included in the purchase price was more than $5 million paid by ASX-listed water investment company Duxton Water for nearly 5000 megalitres of various water entitlements.
Hasma Capital acquired Billabong from Angus breeders the Williams family in 2014 for just over $6 million and the following year snapped up neighbouring Murray Gwynne, a wheat cropping property, for $4.6 million from Nico Seiling.
The British company is led by chief executive Mamoun Askari, the former managing director of private equity firm Investcorp who describes Hasma Capital as a “family office investment firm based in London and Hong Kong”.
It understood Hasma Capital invests on behalf of wealthy Arabic families.
Billabong Aggregation was put up for sale in March, as part of a re-alignment of Hasma Capital’s portfolio. It was marketed by CBRE who confirmed it had sold, but declined to comment.
The decision to sell the land to a farming consortium and hive off the water rights and sell them to Duxton is becoming more common given the rising cost of water amid the severe drought.
It also helped maximise the sale price for Billabong and continues a strong run of recent farm sales in southern and western NSW with rural valuers at Herron Todd White noting that farm values in good rainfall areas were holding up well.
Duxton owns $155 million of water entitlements in the Murray Darling Basin and recently undertook a $58.7 million equity raising to fund new acquisitions.
Billabong has historically been planted to wheat and canola, on a rotation basis. In addition, the property comprises approximately 974.60 hectares of irrigable land. It is also well suited also to irrigated rice, horticultural enterprises and sheep or cattle with an estimated carrying capacity of over 10,000 Dry Sheep Equivalents.
Its sale comes as two prominent southern Riverina properties, Yarunga Station and Fontainebleau, come to market with $8 million-plus expectations. The two properties cover 1710 hectares are being sold by the Kyvalley Dairy Group owned by the Mulcahy family. The properties are being marketed by Duncan McCulloch, James Beer and Danny Thomas of CBRE.