THE Thomas family, owners of Thomas Foods International, have snapped up iconic Mt Schanck station in the South East with a $50 million-plus offer made on cash terms.
The expression of interest period was scheduled to close on November 30, but the property’s owners – the Melbourne-based Evans family – elected to accept the Thomases “very strong” offer.
“The iconic nature of the property, its reputation and its presentation by the Evans family, were key factors in drawing the attention of a strong field of buyers,” selling agent CBRE Agribusiness’ Danny Thomas said.
“These factors combined to elicit a very strong offer prior to the close of the EOI, which the vendors chose to accept given it was on cash terms with little conditionality and included the retention of their loyal staff.”
The Thomas family, through Thomas Farms Rural, has acquired significant SE landholdings in recent years, particularly in the Millicent area. TFR was also an active bidder at this year’s Naracoorte first-cross ewe sales, buying the sale-toppers from Coolawang stud, Mundulla, for $366.
Mt Schanck, a 2870-hectare sheep and cattle property, was listed on the open market for the first time in its history in October, offered on a walk-in, walk-out basis.
Mr Thomas said the property’s scale and prominence attracted strong buyer interest from all market segments, but particularly from high net worth local families and family offices.
“Marking SA’s largest agribusiness transaction in several years, Mt Schanck represented an outstanding opportunity to acquire an investment scale asset that has played an important part in the history of Australian agriculture,” Mr Thomas said.
Located about 13 kilometres south of Mount Gambier, the historic station features a stately four-bedroom, circa 1864 homestead set within manicured gardens, as well as numerous additional high-quality staff residences, a six-stand shearing shed dating back to 1875, shearer’s quarters and Pratley sheep and cattle yards.
Mt Schanck also boasts close to 5000 megalitres of ground water entitlement. About 700 hectares is under centre pivot irrigation, used for lucerne-based pastures, fodder cropping and hay production, with occasional third-party use for potatoes and other cash crops.
Also included in the sale were more than 2000 Rennylea, Te Mania and Landfall-blood Angus cows with calves and heifer replacements, along with about 2500 composite ewes with lambs at-foot and an extensive list of fit-for-purpose plant and equipment.
The property last changed hands in 2005, when the late Ron Evans completed an off-market deal with the Clarke family. They had owned Mt Schanck for more than 140 years, having bought the property from the Arthur brothers of Van Diemans Land (now Tas) in 1861.