Billionaire media mogul Kerry Stokes and veteran cattleman Peter Murray have finally sold their Cygnet Park Farms aggregation on Kangaroo Island for about $25 million, with the buyer being agricultural fund manager Growth Farms.
Growth Farms, which has more than $400 million in farm assets under management and investment mandates including from hedge-fund billionaire Sir Michael Hintze, was co-founded 20 years ago by Angus Taylor, the current federal Energy Minister.
Its latest acquisition, Cygnet Park Farms, is a 7821-hectare aggregation and the largest landholding on Kangaroo Island.
It came to market in September 2017 with ambitious market expectations of about $50 million, including a herd of about 3300 cattle and 15,700 sheep.
This was at a time when there was strong appetite from overseas investors for Kangaroo Island farms. The island is renowned for its produce, which is marketed under the “Kangaroo Island” brand and is especially sought after in Asia.
A spokesman for Mr Stokes, the chairman of Seven West Media, confirmed the sale of Cygnet Park Farms, but declined to comment further, citing the confidential nature of the deal.
The appointed selling agents of Cygnet Park Farms were Tom Russo and Nick Myer, of Elders Real Estate, who both declined to comment.
NSW-based Growth Farms is led by David Sackett, and according to its website invests and manages assets on behalf of a “global network of high-net-worth individuals, family office and institutional clients”.
It was established in 1999 by Angus Taylor and his brother Richard and has substantial investments in cotton, sugarcane, winter crops, sheep and cattle and a portfolio totalling more than 100,000 hectares.
Richard Taylor remains a director of Growth Farms alongside James Keen and chief operating officer Tony Reid.
Last year Growth Farms launched a $100 million-plus fund called the Australian Agricultural Lease Fund with a cornerstone investment from Sydney-based Providence Wealth.
Cygnet Park Farms was established in 2007 under the stewardship of Mr Murray. The aggregation has been steadily expanded over the years, most recently in June 2015 when Woodlana Station, a 2823-hectare landholding at Cassini on the island’s central north coast was acquired for $4.7 million.
Other properties in the aggregation include 550-hectare Clifton Downs, bought in 2010, and Long Hill Station.
Mr Murray, one of Australia’s most experienced cattlemen, said he had decided to bring the portfolio to market in order to focus on other business interests as he transitioned into retirement.
Last year, another WA billionaire, mining tycoon Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, acquired the De Mole estate on the northwest corner of Kangaroo Island from South Australia’s Brown and Wilkinson families in a deal worth about $10 million.