Rex flies into FIFO bid
Regional Express has confirmed it will expand its country airline activities into the fly-in-fly-out labour market, paying $48 million for the local arm of British-owned Cobham Aviation Services.
The deal follows Qantas moving to take full control of charter and FIFO operator, Alliance Aviation, with a bid worth $600m.
Rex is buying Adelaide-based National Jet Express business, which has FIFO services in Western Australia and South Australia and flies freight between Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne.
The acquisition will be part funded from its own cash reserves, including $15m tapped from a two-year-old $150m investment pool from PAG Asia Capital, plus contributions from outside joint venture partners, one of whom is Rex executive chairman, Lim Kim Hai, who is committing private funds towards the purchase.
Rex and its joint venture parties will each own 50 half of NJE.
Mr Lim regarded FIFO as a booming sector in the aviation market and expected NJE to expand services into Queensland and Northern Territory, competiting with Qantas.
Indoor farm funds stack up
Australia's largest end-to-end vertical farm business, Stacked Farm, has secured $56 million from various investors so it can deliver the largest output of leafy green produce per square metre of any indoor vertical farm in the world.
Most of the capital will fund construction of a new fully automated "farm" covering 7000 square metres in southern Queensland, where the company established five years ago.
Gold Coast City Council has offered incentives to facilitate Stacked Farm's commercial operations, a research and development centre and an assembly site.
"Recent weather events have reinforced the need for a concerted industry approach to defeating the challenges nature throws our way," said chief executive officer, Conrad Smith.
The latest expansion is backed by US based alternative asset manager Magnetar Capital in conjunction with Stratos Capital, plus domestic groups Tribeca Investment Partners, Glen Richards and Paul Wilson's Founder Led Investments and others.
Bubs capital raising
Goat and cows' milk infant formula business, Bubs Australia, has opened a share offer to raise funds from retail investors, having collected $41m from an institutional capital raising last week.
The company hopes to raise a total $63m to support its growth initiatives, improve balance sheet flexibility and scale up the group's activities after making rapid inroads into the US formula market in recent months.
Capital is also required to expand its canning capability with a second high speed line, tripling capacity, at the Bubs' site at Deloraine, Victoria.
Eligible retail investors are being offered a one for 10.42 pro-rata accelerated non-renounceable share entitlement at 52 cents a share.
Executive chairman, Dennis Lin said despite a challenging macro environment, Bubs was delighted to be returning to a high growth trajectory with record revenues and strong momentum across its business segments.
The equity raising would ensure the business was well capitalised to pursue growth opportunities, including its fast-tracked US priorities.
Fodder conference returns
Hay and silage producers and others in the fodder supply chain meet in Toowoomba on July 25, 26 and 27 as the National Fodder Conference, returns after a three year hiatus.
The event includes a trade display hall and a post-conference tour.
Keynote speakers include National Farmers' Federation vice president, David Jochinke, from Victoria, outlining the NFF campaign for the industry to exceed $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.
Australian Fodder Industry Association chief executive officer Paula Fitzgerald said the speaker agenda also featured leading hay producers, experts presenting on the oaten hay and national oat breeding program, and the National Hay Quality Awards.
The post-conference tour will visit a robot-run nursery, a feedlot, cotton farms and a gin at Chinchilla.
Incitec demerger moves
Recently appointed chairman designate for the new-look Incitec Pivot fertiliser business, Mike Carroll, is stepping down from his Regional Investment Corporation board job.
Mr Carroll also chairs Macquarie Group's grain farming business Viridis Ag and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and has other agribusiness directorships.
He will lead the standalone fertiliser business when it splits from explosives division Dyno Nobel next year, assuming the demerger is approved by shareholders.
Meanwhile, Chris Opperman takes over as chief financial officer designate at the proposed fertiliser business, leading its separation workstream prior to shareholders voting early next year.
He was previously interim CFO for the full Incitec Pivot business, before Paul Victor commenced this month.
An executive search continues to fill other key fertiliser business jobs.
Rail takeover OK says ACCC
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says it won't oppose Aurizon's acquisition of One Rail, accepting Aurizon's court-enforceable undertaking to sell One Rail's east coast bulk freight and coal business assets once the deal is sealed.
"Without the divestment of the east coast business the ACCC considered the proposed acquisition would reduce the number of main competitors in the supply of coal haulage in NSW and Queensland from three to two, likely resulting in higher prices or decreased service levels," said ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.
One Rail is a well-established third supplier in NSW and has recently emerged as a third competitor in Queensland.
"We are also satisfied divesting One Rail's east coast business would preserve it as a potential competitor to Aurizon for the supply of non-coal bulk rail haulage in the future," she said.
Aurizon will retain One Rail's bulk haulage operations and rail network assets in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Landslip halts rail freight
NSW's main western rail line freight corridor over the Blue Mountains is set to be disrupted until August after a major landslip caused extensive damage during this month's torrential rain and flooding.
The landslide, between Blackheath and Mount Victoria, caused the collapse of the railway embankment along a 20-metre stretch of track, creating subsidence more than 60 metres deep.
Another 16 metre sinkhole was repaired at nearby Leura following March's severe weather.
NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister, Sam Farraway, said 40,000 tonnes of gabion rock would be imported to rebuild the embankment.
Transport for NSW was working closely with the freight industry and rail operators with a goal of resuming limited services next week.
Replacement buses are ferrying rail passengers around the reconstruction site.
Beefing up for Beef 2024
Cattle industry and agribusiness showcase Beef Australia is preparing for its 2024 Rockhampton spectacular with the appointment of event manager, Tash Bury (pictured).
She joins Beef Australia's management team after previously working in project management on the Groundwater Country Music Festival, Blues on Broadbeach, Darwin Supercars, Red Centrenats, and Rockhampton's inaugural Rockynats 01.
She will oversee Beef's cattle competitions, seminars and tech talks, entertainment, property tours, celebrity chef programs and catered social events like the High Tea and Beef Ball.
Beef Australia will further increase its staff ranks in the next six to 12 months.
Chief executive officer, Simon Irwin, said with planning well underway for the triennial event, it was important to build a leadership team across all facets to deliver "another record-breaking and award-winning event".
Grain leadership openings
The grains industry's emerging leaders training opportunity, the Australian Grains Leaders Program is seeking applications for 2023.
In 15 years more than 130 people have gone through the development program which is open to growers and other individuals in grain-related industry roles so they may develop their leadership and advocacy skills.
GrainGrowers chairman, Brett Hosking, himself an AGLP graduate, said AGLP offers emerging grower leaders the opportunity to take a little time off the farm and hone important skills to support their community, businesses, family, and themselves.
Each 2023 participant will work on a specific project which will cover farm inputs, workforce, trade and market access, climate and carbon as well as grain freight and supply chain.
Applications close on August 29.
- For details, visit graingrowers.com.au
Medicinal hemp mover
Australian medicinal cannabis producer, Little Green Pharma, has signed a $2 million supply agreement with German pharmaceutical wholesaler, Ilios Sante.
Headquartered in Frankfurt, Ilios Sante is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bloomwell Group, a leading European medical cannabis healthcare company.
The deal has highlighted ongoing success for Little Green Pharma's genetics program which has resulted in a world class bank of cannabis cultivars including more than 20 strains in various stages of development.
LGP has an expanding suite of high-value supply agreements from its Danish facility into the European Union, joining agreements with AMP, Demecan and Four 20 Pharma in Germany worth a combined potential value of about $35m over three years.
The company has two global production sites manufacturing its own-branded and white-label ranges of GMP-grade medicinal cannabis products - an indoor cultivation and production site in Western Australia capable of producing about three tonnes of medicinal cannabis biomass annually, and another capable of producing over 30t of biomass a year in Denmark.
It supplies markets in Australia, Europe and elsewhere.
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