Harvard Uni ready to graduate with $120m Riverina bonanza

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THE $56.5 billion Harvard University Endowment Fund is expecting $120 million from the sale of almond and cropping assets in the NSW Riverina region, having offloaded Lachlan River assets at the beginning of the year for a similar sum.

The Western Rosella Farming portfolio comprises 13,652 hectares across three properties within a circa 95km radius of one another, being the almond orchards Moora at Hillston, of 524-hectares, and Euroley at Euroley, measuring 2,419 hectares, and irrigation development Newmarket at Maude, which spans 10,708 hectares.

The portfolio accesses separate irrigation systems and water products and offers a diversified commodity mix that includes established permanent almond orchards, greenfield land, approved for further development to support permanent plantings, both dryland and irrigated row cropping, and livestock grazing.

Earlier this year, the world’s largest academic endowment fund – which has $56.5 billion of assets under management – sold the Lachlan River properties Wyadra and Cowl Cowl to Boston-based Hancock Agricultural Investment Group for a figure north of $120 million.

More recently, Hancock picked up ASX-listed Rural Funds Group’s Mooral almond orchards at Hillston for $98 million.

The latest offering joins Darlington Point Aggregation as Riverina almond and cropping assets on the market. Darlington Point has comprises four contiguous properties that have been consolidated and developed continuously since 2003, with a total landholding of circa 2,142 hectares that is expected to fetch above $50 million.

Selling agent if the Western Rosella Farming portfolio, Danny Thomas of CBRE said the offering represented an institutional scale holding for the region, and a significant opportunity to acquire a landholding benefiting from scale and first-class irrigation development with highly sought-after almond orchards.

“The portfolio offers an excellent agricultural offering for the region that will be of interest to investors, both domestic and international.”

The assets are being offered in one line or as separate properties by way of expressions of interest, closing 19th November.

Moora is a highly developed orchard with 434 hectares planted, 365 hectares being planted in 2017 and the rest planted in 2018, and is offered with a Lower Lachlan Groundwater Entitlement is 7,145 megalitres.

The newly developed Euroley almond orchard comprises 376 hectares of land planted this year 2020. It offers recently installed irrigation, fertigation and pumping infrastructure, and has two kilometres of Murrumbidgee River frontage, as well as five kilometres’ frontage to the Sturt Hwy. It includes 1,000 megalitres of Temporary Surface Water Secured for FY20 and 21, with access to the Murrumbidgee Regulated River Water Source.

Newmarket has 1,281 hectares developed to overhead sprays, 729 hectares of laser levelled flood irrigation and 425 hectares of flood irrigation. Some 1,201 hectares has been approved for development, which can be tailored by an incoming purchaser.

The property boasts significant water entitlements, including a Lower Murrumbidgee groundwater (zone 3) water entitlement of 6,018 megalitres, a Murrumbidgee River – supplementary entitlement of 649 megalitres and a domestic and stock entitlement of 341 megalitres, and substantial on-farm water storage totalling 7,680 megalitres capacity, currently holding 2,550 megalitres.

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