HASSAD Australia has confirmed the purchase of more than 40,000ha of mainly grazing land at Telopea Downs in western Victoria's Wimmera.
The Australian registered, Qatar-owned company has not disclosed the purchase price, but an estimated average cost of $875 a hectare ($350 an acre) would value the 10 properties involved at more than $35 million.
Victorian properties involved include Glenalpine, Border Downs, Buckhurst, Eureka, North Wattles, Meengo, Wandarri, Telopea Park and Merkani with one block, Fergusons, in South Australia.
The purchase also involved a 1300-megalitre irrigation entitlement and 25,000-30,000 sheep.
Hassad Australia chief executive officer Tom McKeon said the Telopea Downs operation would be principally aimed at sheep meat production, with some cropping as part of pasture improvement programs.
"We will implement significant improvements to infrastructure, land, pasture, cropping and animal management that will see increased productivity across the aggregation, that wasn’t previously possible due to availability of capital.
"We expect to almost double the number of stock we run in the next three years with improvements to farming systems and pastures," he said.
Mr McKeon said the number of full-time employees on the properties would be increased from 10 to more than 15.
He said Hassad Australia did not pay above valuation for the Telopea Downs land, but real estate sources said yesterday that farms in the area have recently sold for $750-$1125 a hectare and district residents said they had been told some of the property owners in the latest sale were offered $1250-$1750 a hectare.
Hassad Australia has two other aggregations in Victoria; the 2600ha Kaladbro Station at Strathdownie and 8200ha at Moyston.
The company also owns land in NSW, Western Australia and Queensland.
Mr McKeon said Hassad Australia was approaching the end of its "finite plan" in Australia
Terry Sim | April 26, 2012http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/04/26/474725_property.html