Gina Rinehart buys NT cattle station from Indonesian owners

Gina Rinehart at her Helen Springs cattle station.

Mining and agribusiness magnate Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has swooped on the Willeroo Cattle Station, snapping up the pastoral property from its Indonesian owners as it looks to build up its operations.

Willeroo, about 100km west of Katherine in the Northern Territory, spans an area of 171,000 hectares holding around 20,000 head of cattle and sold in line with market prices.

It was sold by Agri International Pty Ltd, which confirmed the sale of the station it picked up in 2014 from the Sultan of Brunei and spent about $4.5 million improving it to boost its carry capacity.

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Agri International is connected to one of the major feedlotting operations in Indonesia’s Sumatra, Great Giant Livestock, and has been importing Australian live cattle for almost 30 years to supply their two major Indonesian feedlots.

The property was managed by Peter Watkins of Australian AgAdvisory and Management who also handled the sale process.

Now the Willeroo property will become part of the larger Hancock group, with Rinehart saying the purchase is part of a commitment to invest in regional Australia, with a special focus on Northern Australia.

“This acquisition continues to build on Hancock Prospecting’s long history in Northern Australia, Australian agriculture and Australian jobs,” she says.

Australia’s third-richest person, with an estimated wealth of $10.41 billion, purchased the country’s largest pastoral portfolio, S. Kidman & Co, with Chinese joint venture partner Shanghai CRED, late last year. Her company, Hancock Prospecting, is the majority owner with a 67% stake in the cattle company.

Willeroo will well complement our existing investments in the north

The latest purchase builds on the Hancock family holdings that are possibly the longest continuous owners of cattle stations in Northern Australia.

Rinehart’s forebears were involved in establishing the first stations in northwest Australia, including Ashburton Downs.

Rinehart says: “We were interested to secure Willeroo because we believe we can add improvements and value to the station, where we will copy what we have introduced successfully on our other Hancock stations, and are currently rolling out across Kidman properties also”.

The $386.5 million Kidman acquisition added 10 cattle stations, making up about 1.3% of Australia’s total land area, to Rinehart’s agricultural portfolio. Following that acquisition Hancock became one of the top three beef producers in the country with a herd of about 300,000 cattle and it sells about 150,000 head a year.

Hancock Prospecting bought Aroona Cattle Station in May and the newly-purchased Willeroo will be run jointly with that property.

“Willeroo will well complement our existing investments in the north,” Rinehart says. “It is adjacent to Aroona which we acquired earlier this year allowing us to operate the two stations as a combined unit.”

The magnate says that being near to the Phoenix Park export depot will assist part of the wet season growing program for Riveren and Inverway, as well as help to provide better market timing opportunities for some of Hancock Beef’s Kimberley cattle stations.

In June, Rinehart inked an agreement with China to export live cattle to the economic powerhouse in a deal that could be valued at more than $500 million if the maximum export capacity is hit.

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