US owner engages PwC to run sale of agribusiness Auscott

30 August 2020 2 min. read

PwC has been tasked with managing the sale of one of Australia’s largest land, water and infrastructure agribusiness – Auscott. The firm is currently reviewing expressions of interest from potential buyers.

The Big Four accounting and advisory firm previously managed the sale of Auscott’s Midkin operation in October last year, which reportedly raised $300 million for Auscott’s parent company – JG Boswell Company. Selling the rest of Auscott wasn’t initially on the cards, but the interest in the Midkin operation encouraged a further sale.

PwC has been tapped to manage this phase as well. New assets on the market span 40,000 hectares of land – both owned and leased. More than 22,000 hectares of this has been developed for irrigation, while the assets also include nearly 150,000 megalitres of water entitlements. In all, the operation facilitates cotton farming to the tune of 1 million bales per year, with additional room for grain farming, ginning and marketing.

Auscott is up for sale as a single identity, although there is reportedly room for specific parts of the operation to be sold individually based on buyer interest. According to Greg Quinn, a partner in PwC Australia’s corporate finance division, there are as it stands no frontrunners in the sale.

US owner engages PwC to run sale of agribusiness Auscott

That being said, local funds are reportedly leading the charge in the bidding process, which Quinn attributes to the market circumstances. “The way the Covid-19 situation has panned out has generated a lot of serious interest from local funds who have been attracted by agriculture's resilient long-term performance,” he said. 

A similar drive to focus on the local market is what has partly driven the Auscott sale in the first place. “We have stood together with growers, employees and the community over 57 years to build a cotton industry that is truly world class. Now is the right time for the us to focus our efforts on opportunities in our core operations in California,” said James Boswell, Chairman and CEO of the JG Boswell Company.

In its 50+ years of operating in Australia, Auscott has become a crucial part of the country’s agriculture landscape. The company is one of just a handful of vertically integrated grower-processor-merchant operations in the country, and has been “an incredibly supportive and positive influence,” according to Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay.

Leveraging its track record in the dealmaking space, PwC is managing the sale of the largest integrated agribusinesses to arrive on the market in around a decade.