A Queensland family has bought a large cattle station on the Northern Territory/Queensland border from a Chinese billionaire for $53 million.
- Wollogorang and Wentworth Stations have been bought by the McMillan family for $53 million
- The stations straddle the NT/Queensland border, covering over 700,000 hectares with around 27,000 cattle
- The property had been owned by one of China’s richest men since 2015
On Tuesday, the McMillan Pastoral Company settled a deal to buy Wollogorang and Wentworth Stations — which are run as one property straddling the border on the Gulf of Carpentaria — according to documents from the NT Land Titles Office.
The 700,000 hectare aggregation, which includes around 80 kilometres of coastline, was sold walk-in-walk out with around 27,000 head of cattle.
The properties were bought from one of the richest businessmen in China, Xingfa Ma, who owns a ball bearing manufacturing company, alongside beef and wine properties in Western Australia.
Mr Ma’s company TBG Agri Holdings had owned Wollogorang and Wentworth since 2015, for which he paid around $47 million.
The McMillan Pastoral Company is run by the large McMillan clan, which manages cattle across several properties in the Cloncurry region of North West Queensland.
Calvert Hills Station, which borders Wollogorang on its eastern boundary, was bought by the McMillans in 2013 for $15 million.
Properties suited to domestic and live export trade
Herron Todd White land valuer, Frank Peacocke, said Wollogorang and Wentworth would fit in well with the McMillans’ other properties.
“They will likely use Wollogorang as a big breeder joint and they will be turning off their younger cattle down to Cloncurry to grow them out and fatten them up,” he said.
“The cattle could go into the domestic market or onto the boats through Townsville.
“It’s actually closer to Darwin, so they could [send cattle] that way also. They’ve got a few options.”
The quick turnaround in ownership for such a large property is quite rare for the Northern Territory pastoral industry.
Mr Peacocke said the growth in pastoral value since 2015 was not reflected in the sale price.
“It was only four years, but in those four years there has been very strong growth in the pastoral asset space, [of] easily 30 per cent growth over that period,” he said.
“[The previous owner] spent over $7 million on Wollogorang and Wentworth over that period, so add that onto the sale price [of $47 million], and if you did expect 30 per cent growth, this sale certainly doesn’t show it.
“I think the McMillans have bought reasonably well.”
Chinese billionaire ‘refocusing’ investments
Speaking to ABC Rural in August last year after the station was put on the market, managing director of TBG Agri Holdings, Andrew Blythe, said the station had been “a great property” for the company, but it was looking to “refocus” its investments.
“We’re focussing back on our investments in Western Australia,” he said.
“We’ve got Emu Downs north of Perth and Balfour in the Pilbara.
“So we’re focussing on those operations and developing a boxed-meat product for China for our shareholders.”
Mr Blythe said the company had invested around $7 million into the property, including a major fencing project, upgrades to the homestead area and watering points.
“And we spent a lot of money on genetics for the property,” he said.
“A lot of the herd was a mix when we bought it, but it’s now pretty much 100 per cent Brahman bloodline.”
The McMillan family declined to comment on the sale.