Drought tips Ceres Agriculture into administration

Drought tips Ceres Agriculture into administration
Drought tips Ceres Agriculture into administration

Ceres Agricultural Company has gone into administration.

The administrators are Philip Campbell-Wilson and Said Jahani from Grant Thornton.

In a statement published by the Beef Central website, the administrators said Ceres Agricultural Company operated one of Australia’s largest integrated cattle-finishing and cropping enterprises.

It said the company operated from leased properties at Oberon and Warialda.

“While it is too early to confirm the factors which contributed to the need for the company to appoint administrators, it is understood that the company had been experiencing working capital/cash flow issues in recent months,” Mr Campbell-Wilson said.

“The drought, which has no doubt had an impact on many farmers, has had an effect on the company.”

The cost of expensive grain has made it very difficult for farmers facing a drought that has been going harder and longer and wider than anyone thought.

Campbell-Wilson said animal welfare was a key priority during the administration process.

“We are finalising arrangements in regards to the remaining 10,000 head of cattle on site which will enable the orderly finishing process for those cattle.”

Campbell-Wilson said the company being in administration would result in further redundancies, following a number of employees having been made redundant in recent months as the business has scaled back. 

“We are mindful that the closure of the company will have an impact not only on employees but on the local communities and businesses that were supported by the company.

“Our aim is to make the administration process as smooth as possible for employees and stakeholders, and to provide support and certainty around next steps."

The farmland is owned by separate corporate entities, with the administrators confirming their appointment did not extend to any related party entities.

The first meeting of creditors will be held on 9 April.

According to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Ceres Agricultural Company’s directors are Vaucluse resident Garrick Hawkins and Singapore residents John Sheehy and Michael Sweeney.

Ceres is fully owned by Pegala Pty Ltd, who registered address is home to the Hawkins family’s showcase Mayfield Gardens.

Sources have said Mr Hawkins intended to retain involvement with the Ceres’ Oberon properties, Mayfield and Ballyroe.

Ceres recently sold the 9000-hectare Brudle Park cropping aggregation (top) north of Moree for around $50 million.

Macquarie-backed Viridis Ag secured the cropping aggregation on the Newell Highway north of Moree.

The sale of the Brudle Park aggregation, which comprises the four properties of Brudle Park, Oaklands, Braden and Yileena, was the first major divestment by Ceres Ag since the business was put up for sale two years ago with a $200 million price tag.

Ceres Agriculture was established in 2012 when cropping and beef enterprise Pegela Pastoral Company received the backing of Singapore-based fund manager Duxton Asset Management in a deal put together by Mark Mason and Garrick Hawkins.

Ceres Agricultural Co’s other asset in northern New South Wales is Gunyerwarildi, which includes a feedlot and large-scale cropping operation at Warialda, east of Moree.

“Brudle Park sold walk-in walk-out, and it settles next week. Contracts have been exchanged unconditionally,” CBRE agent Richard Royle said last week.

Rural Sale Administration

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