Billioniare Sir Michael Hintze spends $21 million on Macquarie's Canowindra aggregation in Central Western NSW

Billioniare Sir Michael Hintze spends $21 million on Macquarie's Canowindra aggregation in Central Western NSW
Billioniare Sir Michael Hintze spends $21 million on Macquarie's Canowindra aggregation in Central Western NSW

The billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Michael Hintze has bought the Canowindra aggregation in Central Western NSW from Macquarie's Viridis Ag for more than $21 million.

The properties were part of Qatari-owned Hassad’s 100,000 hectare portfolio, which Macquarie’s Paraway Pastoral and Viridis Ag bought in September last year in a deal worth about $300 million.

Just six months after the purchase, a number of the properties it acquired as part of the deal were listed for sale.

The aggregation comprises the 3651-hectare Canomodine on the Belbubula River and 536-hectare Elonera west of Orange.

It will add to the more than 40 properties and 72,000 hectares farmed by Sir Michael's MH Premium Farms (MHPF) in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

In a rare disposal, MHPF sold Glaisnock, a 1000-hectare mixed farming holding in NSW's south-west slopes, for $8.8 million last November.

In March, Viridis Ag bought the Brudle Park dry-cropping aggregation leased to insolvent farm manager Ceres Agriculture Co paying about $50 million.

Ceres Agricultural Company collapsed with debts of about $175 million including tens of millions owed to Westpac Bank, minutes of the first meeting of creditors show.

Westpac Bank is the largest unrelated secured creditor with a claim of $31 million.

The minutes describe Ceres Ag as "relatively complex with several related party entities forming the group".

Related party creditors include ABP, the pension fund for government and education employees in the Netherlands, which is owed $58.8 million and two trusts - Pegela and Pajiti directed by Vaucluse businessman Garrick Hawkins - owed $28.7 million and $22.7 million respectively.

The minutes also reveal the Oberon-based premium beef, grains and wool producer, which farmed 30,000 hectares across 15 leased properties in central NSW, had experienced financial difficulties for about a year.

Hawkins in late March memo to staff - which was published in the Oberon Review last week - said the business was unsustainable despite his family investing "tens of millions of dollars into the business".

It highlighted the drought as a factor in its recent troubles.

Since Philip Campbell-Wilson and Said Jahani of Grant Thornton were appointed voluntary administrators of Ceres Ag, 49 out of 51 employees have lost their jobs.

"Based on the current creditor register, we have received claims in the amount of circa $175 million owing to creditors, some of which may have security on assets outside the company," said Campbell-Wilson in response to a question at the first meeting of creditors on April 9.

Ceres Ag did not own any of the land it farmed.

 

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Michael Hintze Canowindra

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