Macquarie claim 49 per cent share of Cubbie Station
BALONNE will now benefit from voluntary water contribution of up to 10GL as part of the joint ownership agreement between Shandong Ruyi and Macquarie Agriculture announced this morning for Cubbie Station.
An agricultural fund managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Asset (MIRA) will acquire a 49 per cent stake in Cubbie Station and associated assets, including its cotton gin with Ruyi to retain 51 per cent.
As part of the joint ownership agreement, MIRA and Ruyi have entered into a binding commitment to voluntarily contribute water to the Culgoa River and Lower Balonne intersecting streams (Lower Balonne) following extended dry periods.
Cubbie Agriculture Chief Executive Officer, Paul Brimblecombe said the joint venture between Ruyi and Macquarie will not only provide a long tenure of employment for current employees, but will have enormous social and environmental benefits.
Where the environmental demand for, and value of, water is greatest following extended dry periods, there are existing rules which act to reduce the volume of water that can be extracted by users by 10% for up to five days.
"Our long term arrangement will be working with the department and determining the appropriate contribution, with Cubbie now being in the position to contribute 50 per cent of entitlements over a five-day period when water is in critical need of rush,” Mr Brimblecombe said.
"This increase will freshen up water holes, create appropriate habitats for fish, which will see social benefits being gained by this replenishment including sustainability for farming operations.”
The agreement provides a stable and long-term ownership structure, providing continuity of employment for Cubbie's 42 employees and supporting local communities in Dirranbandi, St George and surrounding districts.
The Federal Member for Maranoa and Minister for Water Resources, David Littleproud believes this will provide job security for people in the community.
"The station directly employs more than 50 people at full production in and around Dirranbandi and dozens more contractors who service the station,” he said.
"This is the largest private employer in the Balonne Shire, employing local farming, irrigation and agronomy contractors, as well as buying their supplies locally.”
"The deal will give certainty to communities doing it tough in the Northern Basin as they push through the drought.
"They can rest assured that once it rains money will start flowing into people's pockets, and on into business like the local pub and IGA."
Mr Brimblecombe is ecstatic that Cubbie Station has found a like-minded partner like MIRA who shares the vision of making the Voluntary Water Contribution an enduring commitment which will see water preserved for environmental purposes.
"Since Ruyi acquired Cubbie Station in 2012 it has invested over $26 million to maintain and improve the efficiency of Cubbie's operations, spent over $25 million acquiring and upgrading the Dirranbandi ginnery, and funded major low-season maintenance programs providing great support for the local community through the drought cycle,” he said.
"We are excited to continue making a difference in the communities in which Cubbie operates.”
MIRA Head of Agriculture, Liz O'Leary said: "Cubbie is one of Australia's premiere agricultural assets and aligns with our investment thesis for long-term sustainable farming operations.
"MIRA has been an active investor in and manager of Australian farmland for more than 10 years and we understand the responsibilities that we have to local communities and investors. Shandong Ruyi has a long-term track record of sustainable operation of Cubbie and that is a commitment we share with them.
"The Voluntary Water Contribution that we have announced today is a meaningful commitment that will increase the volume of water in the Culgoa River and Lower Balonne intersecting streams, at the most critical times.”