'Small' 3444ha Sylvania for sale

Little known rich lister selling two aggregations at once


Sylvania aggregation is up for sale, making it one of four big farmland property transactions by rich lister Sir Michael Hintze this year.


It's not often a farmer would call an aggregation of 3444 hectares (8511 acres) too small, but that's why Sylvania is up for sale.

Owned by MH Premium Farms, and located 38 kilometres north of Gunnedah and 22km east of Boggabri, the Sylvania aggregation is one of the largest operations in NSW's Wean district.

It's part of a 19-property portfolio totalling 82,000ha that stretches from Giru and Ayr in Queensland's Burdekin region through NSW and as far south as Penshurst and Hawkesdale in south-west Victoria.

The business has grown fast since it was founded in 2007 by Sir Michael Hintze and it seems to be evolving just as rapidly.

Aside from Sylvania, it has the 12,548ha Marshmead aggregation at Walgett in northern NSW on the market.

In February, MH Premium Farms bought 2868ha Minjah in Victoria's south west for around $36 million, with MH Premium Farms chief executive Ed Dunn flagging further investment in the state.

"When you look at rainfall patterns and correlations, it's quite uncorrelated with our New South Wales operations so it's quite a good diversifier," he said.

In June, MH Premium Farms spent $100 million acquiring 12,168ha Queensland cotton-growing property South Callandoon.

It was this purchase and the need to "rebalance" the portfolio that triggered the decision to put Sylvania and Marshmead on the market, .

"Sylvania doesn't quite fit with our strategy and it's a small operation by our standards without a great opportunity to grow," Mr Dunn said.

MH Premium Farms was targeting properties valued at more than $25 million and he said Sylvania would be roughly half that. The strategy involved balancing operating yield, capital growth and volatility.

"In higher rainfall livestock operations, particularly in southern NSW into Victoria, certainly, you tend to have a lower yield, less volatility but higher capital growth," Mr Dunn said.

"In low-rainfall cropping, although capital growth has been quite good of late with interest rates and commodities driving demand, you tend to have less capital growth but higher cash performance long term with a lot more volatility."

At least 60 per cent of the portfolio was considered to be in the lower risk areas, with the remainder more volatile but higher performing.

Sylvania, with its 600-millimetre annual rainfall no doubt sits at the low risk end.

"It's a good farm, it's a mixed farm but has the potential to develop into a good tropical pasture grazing enterprise," Mr Dunn said of the aggregation.

"We were utilising it for lamb finishing, which it does very well with good lucerne but we've got other options, so it was really surplus to requirement.

"I think long term, given the cattle market, it would make a very good finishing operation and grazing operation for cattle."

The mixed-farming operation includes 2400ha suited to grazing, winter cereals, summer cropping and fodder crops and 685ha of open grazing country.

It includes 550ha of lucerne and 930ha of fallow country. Under current management, the property fattens 8000 lambs on fodder crops, runs 500 head of trade cattle and crops around 500ha.

Elders Gunnedah agent Ian McArthur said the current 450ha of grazing wheat and 455ha of Lancer wheat could be negotiated as part of the sale.

The soil types run from basalts to alluvial creek flats and lighter red open plains ideal for lucerne and sub-tropical grasses.

Since it purchased Sylvania aggregation in 2016, MH Premium Farms had invested heavily in fencing, water from bores, laneways, shedding, yards and pasture, Mr Dunn said.

While the business liked to "fly under the radar", Mr Dunn said it had been more public with its plans to continue to attract good staff to join its growing team of about 100 full time employees.

Expressions of interest close October 29. Contact Elders Gunnedah agent Ian McArthur on 0429 431 519.

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