Balfour Downs Station returns to Aussie ownership as billionaire steps up to the plate

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has grabbed the chance to own Balfour Downs Station from his pocket money at a price estimated just in excess of $32 million

In an over-heated property market it could well be that Balfour Downs pastoral station with over 12,000 head of cattle thrown in was a bargain that others missed at just over $32 million

The purchase will be settled by the Forrest family’s agribusiness company, Harvest Road, and the sweet spot to the deal for many is that an Aussie has bought back this iconic station from Chinese owner Xingfa Ma.

In typical Twiggy Forrest negotiation style, Balfour Downs pastoral station was on the market for an anticipated price of up to $40m, and while the final price will only be confirmed on stamp duty papers it is expected the sale was concluded for just over $32 million.

Balfour Downs pastoral station is in fact a collective of three separate pastoral leases that comprise approximately 634,000 hectares.

In a good season the station is regarded as one of the best beef breeding operations in the country.

Balfour Downs is situated in the East Pilbara region of WA, approximately 175km from the township of Newman and 1,360km north of Perth.

The sale is pretty much a walk-in walk-out transaction as it includes approximately 12,000 head of cattle, predominantly Brahman with some Droughtmaster’s thrown in. There is very little to spent on the infrastructure, it is up-to date and includes a newly built homestead, staff quarters, sheds and 3,000 head capacity steel cattle yards.

The proposed sale to Harvest Road, the diversified agri-business of Andrew and Nicola Forrest, representing one of the few times the property had changed hands in 100 years.

This is very much an Aussie icon property, being the birthplace of famed Australian writer Doris Pilkington, author of Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence among other titles.

Chief Investment Officer John Hartman, of holding company Tattarang, said Balfour Downs will form an important part of Harvest Road’s integrated beef supply chain and unwavering commitment to the highest possible environmental stewardship and animal welfare.

“For more than a century, Balfour Downs been an important part of the development of Australia’s cattle industry. We are committed preserving this legacy and investing in its future to further enhance this iconic property’s status as some of the most productive pastoral lands in WA,” Mr Hartman said.

Balfour Downs was in hot competition for its water assets alone, boasting an extensive water infrastructure to support its large-scale cattle breeding and finishing operations, with 92 equipped watering points, including 35 ring dams, 48 fully equipped bores and numerous permanent and semi-permanent pools along the river and creek systems.

Harvest Road’s Chief Operating Officer Pastoral, Backgrounding and Feeding Facility Ben Dwyer paid tribute to Balfour Down’s previous owners and their strong record of investment in key infrastructure, including the development of impressive cattle and livestock facilities.

“The acquisition of Balfour Downs is part of our long-term investment into the future of Western Australia’s beef industry and our commitment to developing a world-class network of integrated supply chain assets across the State,” Mr Dwyer said.

Andrew Blythe the managing director of TBG Agribusiness, a subsidiary of Tianma Bearing Group, controlled by the seller Chinese billionaire Xingfa Ma said he was extremely pleased to see the legacy of Balfour Down continued by the Forrest family.

“Over the past six years, TBG Group has proudly operated Balfour Downs, investing in its future and reinforcing its status as one of the most respected breeding stations in Australia. We couldn’t think of more perfect new custodians than the Forrests’ to safeguard the future of the station for many generations to come,” Mr Blythe concluded.

The planned transaction by Harvest Road is subject to approval by the Western Australian Minister for Lands before Twiggy Forrest can officially crack open a bottle of champagne.

As a company nestled in the Tattarang operation, Harvest Road is one of Australia’s largest and most diverse agri-food businesses. The Group’s beef division – which includes the Harvey Beef brand – is WA’s largest beef processor and owns a state-of-the-art processing facility in Harvey, just 126km north of state capital Perth.