Iron ore mogul Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has bought iconic Western Australian beef company Harvey Beef in a deal reportedly worth $40 million.
Harvey Beef is WA’s biggest beef exporter and the only company with permission to export to China.
Forrest said he hopes to build an agricultural success story that would rival the boom of mining.
“Following detailed discussions with the Chinese leadership, we are determined to ensure that the Australian agricultural industry’s future in China is just as bright as our mining future,” Forrest said.
As part of the deal, signed in Perth between Forrest’s company Minderoo and a Hong-Kong based private equity fund, plans are underway to pave the way for live cattle exports to China, The West Australian reported.
Forrest has also committed to upgrading Harvey Beef’s abattoir which employs about 300 people and processes about 145,000 cattle a year.
Forrest said the deal should send a strong message about the future of Australia’s agricultural industry and provide "confidence to increase supply and make Australia the supplier of choice to meet Asia’s long term food security requirements.”
Minderoo's chief operating officer Grant Vernon said Forrest’s Chinese market know-how would help to expand Harvey Beef.
"Obviously the success Andrew has had through Fortescue Metals Group in expanding markets such as the Chinese market, we've got the opportunity through contacts to really grow the business,” he said.
Harvey Beef CEO Michael Hughes said the company was pleased with the acquisition.
"We are a proud WA brand and are committed to getting on with the job to supply Australians and the emerging markets of the world with the best beef produce," Hughes said.
"This is an excellent result not just for Harvey Beef, but for our suppliers and distributers all over Australia”
Currently nearly 70 per cent of Harvey Beef is exported overseas to about 30 countries including Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Middle East and the United States.
The Harvey Beef plant is located about 140km south of Perth.