Saudi buyer drops $60m for Nicoletti portfolio

WA cropping country sold to Saudi investment interests

Property
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Australia’s largest single parcel of broadacre agricultural land has been sold to Saudi investment interests.

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WELL-KNOWN WA graingrowers the Nicoletti family have sold their 200,000-hectare portfolio to the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company Australia for a reported $60 million.

The Baladjie aggregation in WA's wheatbelt comprised John and Julie Nicoletti's farming interests and other third-party options. The aggregation included 76,000ha of freehold cropping land and 134,000ha of leasehold land, and was home to a minimum sheep flock of 40,000 Merino ewes, plus rams and progeny.

The transaction was completed last week after long-winded approval process spanning seven months by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board. The aggregation was put up for sale in May last year

In congratulating SALIC on its purchase of their business and neighbouring properties, Mr and Mrs Nicoletti also thanked staff for their dedication and loyalty.

This purchase represents the culmination of a lifetime of work for us and others. - JOHN AND JULIE NICOLETTI

"This purchase represents the culmination of a lifetime of work for us and others - and we are delighted that the enlarged business will be stewarded by the SALIC team into the future," the couple said in a statement.

Located between Merredin, Mukinbudin, Bullfinch and Southern Cross in WA, the aggregation also features structural improvements including more than 25 dwellings, 12 shearing sheds, machinery and storage.

CBRE Agribusiness' Danny Thomas - who managed the sale process with map19's Damian Bryce - said the scale of the aggregation was a major drawcard for the Saudi investor.

SALIC KSA chief executive officer Matthew Jansen said the acquisition of Baladjie was an "important step" for the company as it sought to build its global footprint "in a meaningful way".

"It is our first acquisition in Australia as well as our first investment in sheep production," Mr Jansen said.

SALIC head of production - agriculture investments William England said the local team would build on Mr Nicoletti's legacy, with plans to manage the livestock and grain production enterprise for the long-term with a focus on sustainability, profitability, environmental responsibility and support for the local rural community.

SALIC Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SALIC KSA, a Riyadh-based investment company owned by sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

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