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Rural Equities sells second-largest property


By Gavin Evans

May 14 (BusinessDesk) - Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, has agreed to sell its second-largest property as it rejigs its portfolio.

Puketotara, a beef and sheep finishing operation near Huntly, covers 1,146 hectares and typically carries 12,000 stock.

The company, which trades on the Unlisted exchange, said it expects about $11.7 million from the sale including livestock. The deal will settle on June 20.

The sale is the sixth the Hastings-based firm has announced since June.

Rural Equities’ portfolio has been shrinking as it sells down farms. The company, which also has a stake in listed Australian farming and horticulture business Webster, said in 2017 it would consider new long-term investment opportunities in other asset classes and potentially other jurisdictions to improve returns and portfolio diversification.

Executives weren’t immediately available to comment on the recent sales.

Rural Equities started the latest financial year with 22 properties around New Zealand with a total landholding of about 9,800 ha. The six properties sold accounted for more than 2,600 ha.

Sales to date included the 101 ha Delorain operation in Taranaki, the company’s smallest dairy farm and its only asset in the region. The other sales have been in Hawke’s Bay and South Canterbury.

While some of the earlier sales were completed at more than book value, Rural Equities said proceeds from the six sales, before commissions, are likely to be about $39.7 million. That is almost 6 percent less than their June 2018 carrying value of $42.1 million.

The firm’s ordinary shares last traded at $4.76, valuing the business at about $152.6 million.

(BusinessDesk)

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