GOOD AS GOLD: This file picture of Simpson Farms' John Walsh among the farm's orchard.
GOOD AS GOLD: This file picture of Simpson Farms' John Walsh among the farm's orchard. Mike Knott BUN131112EXP2

Holy guacamole! Avo farm could fetch $250m or more

HOLY guacamole! A local avocado farm is tipped to sell for more than $250 million after hitting the market only a week ago.

Family owned Simpson Farms has a long history in the region, with Ron and Fay Simpson starting the Childers farm in 1969.

The total land is 1531 ha and has 848 ha of orchards producing a mix of mangoes and avocados.

It is the largest vertically integrated avocado business in Australia.

Two sources said the farm was estimated to sell for between $250 and 300 million.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers' Christopher Williams is handling the sale and said the farm listed last Thursday already had a number of interested parties.

Although Mr Williams remained tight-lipped about the price, he did say "it would be determined by the market".

"It's on the open market to any qualified buyer," he said.

"They'll just need to sign a confidentiality agreement."

The on-site avocado orchard nursery currently produces about 13,000 avocado trees per year.

Being vertically integrated, the sale includes a 4500sq m packing facility and a new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant.

Deputy Mayor Bill Trevor said it's positive news for the region, which had a strong lead in the future of agriculture.

"The world's awash with superannuation money and there is a lot of opportunity to sell to those companies," Cr Trevor said.

"These are private equity companies in Australia and overseas, such as Macquarie Group."

Cr Trevor said the agriculture industry was about to burst at the seams, saying the "food industry was the next gas or oil industry".

"Australia has a strong reputation for clean, green food," he said.

"This sale is just added value to the Bundaberg region."

Bundaberg real estate agent Scott Mackey said the sale would have a positive flow-on effect, which would stimulate other farm sales.

"Farms and the agricultural sectors are hot property at the moment," Mr Mackey said.

"The investment to our region out of this farm has a flow-on to not only commercial, but residential as it will raise the values.

"The interest in our region is very strong at the moment - there are major companies looking at our agriculture."

He said Bundaberg was economically buzzing and the word was spreading not only across Australia, but around the globe.

Last year the Australian Financial Review said Costa Group showed interest in acquiring an avocado farm in the region after missing out on the sale of Jasper Farms.

Its goal was to be the number one grower, packer and marketer of avocados in Australia.

It said Australia's biggest producer was Simpson Farms.

The NewsMail phoned Simpson Farms director John Walsh, but he did not return the calls by deadline.



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