PSP acquiring Australian agriculture firm for A$854 million

The Public Sector Pension Investment Board is taking over Webster Ltd., an Australian agribusiness company, for A$854 million.

While the PSP already owns 19.1 per cent of Webster’s ordinary shares, its subsidiary PSP BidCo is acquiring the total remaining ordinary shares for A$2 per share, which is a 57 per cent premium on Webster’s most recent closing price. It will also buy all Webster preference shares on issue for A$2 in cash per share through a separate arrangement.

The company operates walnut and almond orchards in New South Wales and Tasmania, and also owns land for cotton and other annual crops, cattle and Dorper sheep production, a water entitlements portfolio and an apiary business.

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Maurice Felizzi, managing director and chief executive officer at Webster, said the PSP was the logical owner of Webster’s portfolio given the fund’s focus on long-term growth. “We are encouraged by their understanding of our business and its ongoing importance to regional and rural communities in Australia,” he said in a press release. “PSP Investments has a proven track record in managing and investing in agricultural assets over the long term for sustainable value creation and therefore we believe this transaction represents a positive outcome for all stakeholders in our business.”

The purchase is part of the PSP’s natural resources group, which directly invests in agriculture, timber and related opportunities around the world.

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If the deal is approved by shareholders, Webster will transfer certain assets to a newly created PSP group entity called KoobaCo for a value of A$267.7 million, plus the net working capital acquired with the business.

Existing investors Belfort Investment Advisors Ltd. and Verolot Ltd., which own 12.5 per cent and 10.7 per cent of Webster’s ordinary shares, respectively, will be offered the opportunity to acquire a 50.1 per cent ownership stake in the new company.