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Webster Acquires Motspur Park Walnut Orchards in $23.1M Deal

April 13, 2017

Webster Limited, Australia’s largest walnut producer, announced it has agreed to acquire the 250-hectare Motspur Park walnut orchards in Tabbita, New South Wales for a total consideration of A$23.1 million (US$17.5 million).

Under the terms of the deal, which includes water entitlements and equipment,Webster will pay A$10 million in cash, and will add a share allocation of 9 million Webster ordinary shares valued at approximately A$13.1 million.

The Motspur Park property is located adjacent to Webster’s 663-hectare walnut orchard in Tabbita, and has been managed by Webster who has also processed the walnuts from the property at its Leeton plant for the past 10 years.

Webster

Webster is one of Australia’s leading agribusinesses with a 180-year history. Since its founding, the company has grown to have three main focuses:

Walnuts – Webster is the largest producer of premium in-shell and kernel walnuts in the southern hemisphere, and supplies approximately 90 percent of Australia’s walnuts. It currently produces its crop from about 2,000 hectares of orchards in Tasmania and New South Wales, and has another 900 hectares of young plantings in the Rinverina that are expected to start producing next year.

Agriculture – The company is also the largest irrigated farmer in Australia with 40,000 fertile, irrigated hectares of cotton, corn, cereals, and livestock across southern Queensland and New South Wales.

Water – After its takeover of the Tandou farming and water trading business in New South Wales in 2015, Webster now owns a portfolio of more than 200,000 megaliters of water entitlements that supports the diversity of its operations and provides the company with a competitive market advantage.

The Australian reports that last month the company posted a A$4.1 million after-tax statutory net profit for the six months to December 31, 2016 and expressed its intent to expand its cotton, cropping and sheep operations with a planned $12.5 million acquisition of Kalabity Station in South Australia and a 13,500 head Dorper breeding ewe flock, according to Queensland Country Life.

“This acquisition is consistent with our strategy to leverage the value of our water entitlements by maximising [sic] the value of our horticultural and agricultural operations,” said Corrigan, Webster’s executive chairman.

Although walnut prices have fallen below 2014 and 2015 levels, Webster’s walnut operations have seemingly moved beyond challenges faced during pollination in the past two years, and is expecting to see a harvest of about five tons per hectare.

Looking forward, the Australian Nut Industry Council expects the country’s in-shell walnut output to reach 23,000 tons by 2025 with an export value of A$110 million, supported by global demand that is growing at 4 percent per year, and Australia’s ability to produce counter-seasonally to the northern hemisphere, according to the report, Australia’s Tree Nut Industry, Growing for Success 2014.

 

-Lynda Kiernan

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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