Expat billioniare Sir Michael Hintze spends another $3.75 million on NSW rural empire

The expatriate Australian billionaire philanthropist Sir Michael Hintze has added another three NSW properties to his east coast farming portfolio.

It included a $2 million for a 609 hectare Wee Waa farm in the New England district. There was also two farms at Walgett adding 948 hectares at a $1.75 million cost.

The London-based hedge fund founder has amassed one of Australia’s fastest-growing farm portfolios, with Title Tattle counting freehold acquisitions totalling around 51,000 hectares since 2007. His private pension fund, MHPF, has spent about $125 million on the freehold land along with an estimated $10 million plus on water licence purchases.

Hintze founded CQS Management, a London-based hedge fund with assets of $US11.5 billion, in 1999. The CQS Directional Opportunities Fund has been ranked by Bloomberg at number three on its list of the 100 top-performing hedge funds, returning nearly 36% net of fees last year.

He was raised in Sydney after the family arrived from China as ethnic Russian refugees in 1953. He holds a BSc in Physics and Pure Mathematics and a BEng in Electrical Engineering, both from the University of Sydney. He also holds an MSc in Acoustics from the University of New South Wales, an MBA from Harvard Business School and received a Doctor of Business and an Honoris Causa from the University of New South Wales. 

Prior to beginning his career in finance, he served for three years in the Australian Army as a captain in the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. the hedge fund chief, who spent 12 years at Goldman Sachs in roles such as head of European emerging markets, left Sydney in 1980 for Salomon Brothers in New York.

In June 2013 he received a knighthood in recognition of his substantial charitable contributions to the arts in the United Kingdom. 

His most recent purchase was in Queensland costing $2.35 million for a 166 hectare sugan cane farm which took his Horseshoe Lagoon holdings to 572 hectares costing $9.3 million.

Hintze, whose wealth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $US1.6 billion, has said he was not just looking for capital gain from the properties. He says he seeks solid returns on production.

His purchases have been driven by the view that rural land in Australia represents good value in light of the strong global demand for “soft commodities”. 

Hintze's buying spree began when he spent $12.5 million for a Breadalbane property in July 2007. The Hintze portfolio has been accumulated and managed by Richard Taylor, a director of Growth Farms Australia. 

''I'm not a farmer, but I do the numbers. It's got to make money,'' Hintze once said.

More recently he noted: “I wish the dollar were lower as it would be easier in farming.”

He added Australia was expensive even for dining.

“The days when there was an arbitrage in saying, ‘Don’t worry I’ll buy you a meal when I come to Australia and you buy me one when you come to London.’ It’s gone the other way around,” Hintze quipped.


Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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