Hewitt Cattle Australia, backed by one of Canada's biggest pension funds, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, has made its largest cattle station purchase to date, buying two properties in the Northern Territory for about $50 million.
Hewitt Cattle Australia chief executive Mick Hewitt confirmed a deal had been struck and that it was a "transformational transaction for the business".
"This is a multi-faceted acquisition that adds a great deal of strategic value for HCA," Mr Hewitt told The Australian Financial Review.
"Strategically, this acquisition means we are well-positioned to access multiple markets throughout Australia including both live export and processing. In particular, we are drawn to the prospects of accessing the burgeoning southern Australian live export trade to China."
Hewitt Cattle Australia will take two quality central Australian pastoral assets, Ambalindum Station and Numery Station, about 140 kilometres east of Alice Springs, covering 650,000 hectares with an estimated carrying capacity of 20,000 head of cattle.
In addition to the properties, the transaction includes about 15,000 head of cattle as well as several assets from the property vendor, Tim and Emily Edmunds' Hale River Pastoral Company.
These assets include extensive livestock freight assets, staff accommodation and administrative headquarters located in Alice Springs, and a small pastoral asset used as a spelling complex for livestock transitioning to South Australian markets.
"In our view, Ambalindum is one of central Australia's iconic assets and will ultimately act as a cornerstone breeding operation for HCA," Mr Hewitt said.
"The property is highly regarded within the region, as is the quality of its herd."
Mr Hewitt said the property will supply high-quality stock back to the company's eastern seaboard assets and markets. The deal will also bring the company's total holdings to more than 1 million hectares and 75,000 head of cattle.
Hewitt Cattle Australia started its acquisition phase in 2015 snapping up pastoral legend Graham McCamley's Oakleigh and Stoodleigh properties north of Rockhampton, Queensland for about $13 million.
It then purchased a 31,000 beef cattle aggregation in the Moura district of Central Queensland - Pegunny and the nearby Anglestone and Roundstone from Rockhampton-based businessman Bill Reid.
It went on to buy a major aggregation of cattle stations from gas company Australia Pacific LNG. They included three cattle properties north-east of Roma, Queensland - Strathblane, Wybara and Scotts Creek - to add to its existing Pony Hills property.
The Canadian fund backing the HCA, PSP, manages $115 billion in assets and seeks investment returns for the pension plans of the Canadian Public Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Reserve Force.
The Canadian investor has placed an emphasis on sustainable agriculture which fits Hewitt Cattle Australia's sustainable business model.
The story first appeared on The Australian Financial Review.