$80m deal struck as M’boro cane farming land sold off

AN Australian company is contracted to buy more than 5000 hectares of sugar cane farms in the Maryborough region.

Part of the land will be converted to grow macadamia nuts.

According to a statement from Rural Funds Management Limited, the company will buy the farms, with associated plant and equipment, along with 8060ML of water entitlements from MSF Sugar for $81.1 million.

The company plans to progressively convert the farms to about 2200 hectares of macadamia orchards, with much of the remaining area to be used for cropping.

On its website, RFM describes itself as one of the "oldest and most experienced agricultural funds managers in Australia".

The statement said the company was in discussions with several potential lessees.

It will provide further details of the agreed development program "in due course".

About 25 per cent of the MSF farms were leased at rates consistent with the company's other natural resource predominant assets, the statement said.


MSF Sugar Maryborough Region Mill. Photograph by Maggie Zemek
MSF Sugar Maryborough Region Mill. Photograph by Maggie Zemek

"RFM will seek to lease the balance of the cane farms which are currently operated," the statement said.

"The transaction will include a two-year offtake agreement in respect to the cane produced on the farms, or a reduction in purchase price."

The transaction includes an opportunity to purchase additional water rights.

Settlement is expected to happen in October.

MSF Sugar in June confirmed it was seeking to sell the land as it "shifts its focus away from farming".

It is understood the deal does not include the Maryborough Sugar Mill.

The Chronicle contacted MSF Sugar asking for clarity on the future of the mill and the $600 million Mary Harbour project.

It has previously been confirmed the mill will continue operating through the 2020 crushing season.

The Mary Harbour project, which has been in the works for more than 15 years, and was meant to encompass 177ha site at Granville, would be transformed into a 300-berth marina surrounded by waterfront board walks, a village centre, more than 1800 dwellings and a four-star 100-room resort style hotel.