Chinese firm cuts cattle station deal

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Yakka Munga in the West Kimberley has been the target of a Chinese investor.
Camera IconYakka Munga in the West Kimberley has been the target of a Chinese investor. Credit: The West Australian

A Chinese entity with big plans for cattle production in WA has swooped on a prized station in the heart of the Kimberley.

The group is understood to have paid about $9 million for Yakka Munga, which carries about 7000 cattle and covers 189,000 hectares near Broome.

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The deal comes less than 18 months after oil and gas explorer Buru Energy purchased the station through receivers KordaMentha.

Buru confirmed that a wholly-owned subsidiary had entered into a conditional agreement to sell Yakka Munga.

The sale is subject to State and Federal Government approval and an agreement on Buru’s continued access to the pastoral lease.

The lease includes Buru’s Ungani oil drilling operations.

“If any of the conditions are not satisfied or waived, the sale agreement may be terminated,” the company said.

Buru did not disclose the sale price but said it reflected the increase in the value of cattle stations in the Kimberley since 2014.

Buru trumped five other bidders, including Gina Rinehart and a Malaysian group, the last time Yakka Munga was on the market.

The name of the Chinese investor behind the latest purchase was not disclosed. It is understood the group has not ruled out other acquisitions in the cattle industry.

Yakka Munga was owned by companies controlled by the family of former Pastoralists and Graziers Association vice-president Ruth Webb-Smith before they went under with debts of more than $12 million.

The family blamed the 2011 ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia for much of their financial woes.

Buru also said production at the Ungani oilfield would be suspended after its next lifting was completed because of the plummeting oil price and encroaching wet season.

“During the suspension period the joint venture intends to move to a more cost-effective export route than the current arrangement through Wyndham,” the company said.

Buru’s share price fell 1.5¢, or 6.5 per cent, to 21.5¢.

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