Jun 1, 2012 8:12 AM GMT+0800 Qatar s sovereign wealth fund, with an estimated $100 billion inassets, expects to start exports of grains and wool from Australiaas it nears completion of a A$500 million ($486 million) farminvestment plan. Hassad Food Co., the agricultural investment arm of the QatarInvestment Authority, is shifting its focus to commercialproduction from food security and is unlikely to buy new propertieswhen it reaches its purchase goal within a year, said Tom McKeon,chief executive officer of Hassad Australia. We re approaching completion of our business plan; once we getthere, our prime focus will be on developing the assets we have, McKeon said in an telephone interview from Sydney yesterday. Itdoesn t make sense for the Qatari government to concentrate toolarge an investment on Australia. Hassad may invest 500 million euros ($618 million) around the worldthis year, the company s Chairman Nasser al-Hajri told BloombergNews earlier last month. |
The Australian operation s most recentpurchases include a 40,000 hectare (154 square mile) property inTelopea Downs in Victoria state, and 31,500 hectares of farmland inthree locations in Western Australia this year, to boost suppliesof sheep, wheat and barley, McKeon said. Wheat inventories in Australia, the world s second-biggestshipper, will probably hold above average this year even ashandlers seek to maximize exports following a record harvest,Emerald Group Australia Pty said last month. Low sheep stock levelsin Australia, the world s biggest exporter of wool, will supportthe market, Rabobank International said in April. Overseas Ventures Qatar, which imports 90 percent of its food, invested $2 billionlast year, Hussain al-Abdulla, a board member at the QatarInvestment Authority, said in April. The company started wheat andanimal feed production in Sudan in 2009, and announced plans to buyTurkish farmland last year.
While Hassad plans to expand globally by acquiring agriculturalcompanies -- particularly in north Africa, the Americas, Europe andsouth-east Asia -- it has been focused on land acquisitions inAustralia, McKeon said. The way the real estate market is set up in Australia, there sbeen no need to buy a company to buy the land, McKeon said. Most of the properties we ve purchased have been from willingsellers, and a lot have been on the market already.
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