The sale of the farms along with a support block – making up the Ellis Lea portfolio – was to an unnamed New Zealand-based investor.
The package included the 420-hectare Grandview Farm, on Old Main South Rd, Orton, and the neighbouring 524ha Lamorna, together with a 249ha support block, Collett Farm, approximately 30 minutes from the other properties.
The transaction was negotiated by Colliers rural advisers George Morris and Mark Parry, who described it as the most significant land sale seen in the Canterbury dairy market for some time.
Collectively the farms produced 1,789,898 kilograms of milk solids (kgMS)in the 2020/21 season, equating to 465kgMS per cow, or 1896 kgMS / per effective hectare, said Morris.
He said the farms’ impressive production was underpinned by an equally impressive financial performance.
“We were confident the likely buyer was going to come from a group of parties active in the market, including, corporates, institutional funds and large-scale families who we knew were genuine and qualified.
“Given the complexity of the transaction, and the due diligence required, it took nearly five months from the start of the expressions of interest process to the contract confirming.”
Conditional negotiations were concluded late 2021, with settlement on June 1, 2022.
Morris said the Ellis Lea Farms assets had always been of interest to corporate buyers because of their scale, location, excellent resources, infrastructure, and proven consistency in production and profitability.
“David and Karen Ellis are industry leaders, with a reputation in the industry for being very good farmers and stewards of the land.
“The way the farms are presented, the productivity and the care taken to ensure environmental regulation is not only complied with, but exceeded, is admirable and made the properties very desirable to buyers.”
Parry said the Canterbury agricultural market and, more specifically, the dairy market, was going from strength to strength.
“On-farm profitability is very healthy, and a new-found confidence in food production and health food in a post-pandemic world seems to be encouraging astute buyers.
“Commodity prices, as well as futures markets, remain strong and continue to bolster confidence for buyers and create a sound margin for returns.”
“It is good to see the investment sector return to the dairy market after a notable absence – it has always been an important source of capital.”
Colliers’ data showed transaction numbers in Canterbury had increased notably compared with the past three years. There was also greater investment from local capital as opposed to overseas investors.
In the 2019-20 season, the Canterbury region saw only three sales totalling $21.5 million. In 2020-21 this rose to 18 sales with a total market value of $150 million.
Colliers was predicting an estimated $380 million of irrigated Canterbury dairy assets being traded for the 2021-22 season, with around 34 sales.