Mining billionaire buys stake in leading Australian feed company

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/marchmeena29
© GettyImages/marchmeena29

Related tags Aquaculture Dairy seaweed Methane

Private investment group, Tattarang, owned by Australian mining and agribusiness billionaire, Andrew Forrest, has spent AUS$12mn (US$9.3m) on a stake in leading domestic feed manufacturer, Ridley Corporation.

The investors, whose interests run across meat processing, horticulture, aquaculture, energy, telecommunications, biopharmaceuticals, and property, among other fields, took a 5.1% stake in the animal nutrition group, reports Australia media title, Farm Weekly​.

Ridley produces complete feeds mineral concentrates, nutritional blocks and supplements targeted at dairy cows, the poultry and pig sectors, as well as the beef, sheep, horse and pet segments. It is also working on commercialization of its Novacq prawn feed ingredient, with related production facilities in Thailand.

Analysts told Farm Weekly​ Ridley's aquaculture business might be the primary appeal of the stockfeed producer for Tattarang.

Ridley’s mills produce around 2m tons of feed products and ingredients at 20 different sites within Australia. It is active in all states except Western Australia and it opened a salmon feed mill in Tasmania in 2019. Last year saw its new mill in Victoria go on stream; that AUS $47m facility is supplying 350,000 tons of poultry and pig feed to local farmers.

Ridley faced a number of financial challenges last year; in August 2020, it noted several issues impacting its financial results including the closure and replacement of three feed mills, together with restructuring costs, asset impairments and the settlement of a legal claim in February with leading Australian poultry producer, Baiada.

The company has been focusing on optimization initiatives aimed at simplifying the business, installing automation, leveraging its raw material and consumable procurement and rationalizing the supply chain.

Seaweed led innovation

Australian rich lister, Forrest, has also been exploring other feed related investment opportunities of late.

In August last year, his agribusiness, Harvest Road, along with supermarket giant, Woolworths, and Australia’s GrainCorp became joint venture partners in Future Feed, the company formed to take a methane-busting seaweed, developed by CSIRO, to market.

Future Feed will commercialize a livestock feed additive made from the seaweed Asparagopsis,​ which CSIRO said has been shown to reduce methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle by more than 80% in research trials in Australia and the US. 

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