Agribusiness and Food

Helping Australian and global food and agriculture companies drive sustainable growth, development and success.

Australia is a natural choice when it comes to agriculture.  The industry is a key pillar of the Australian economy and our national Agribusiness and Food group have played an active role in the sector for over 30 years.  We've seen the developments, we've worked with producers, manufacturers, suppliers, government, other industry participants and regulators and we understand the issues and concerns you face better than any other.

The Australian agricultural and food sector is changing shape rapidly, driven by a combination of local, regulatory and global factors. Agtech investment to drive cost-efficiency and improve quality and integrity of produce, the transformation of traditional supply chain models, food fraud and climate change risks are just some of the new issues making waves in the industry.  These new issues are shaping the industry while the general premise stays the same and continues to evolve - that is, global demand for Australia's safe and clean produce remains strong and the expanding international trade paves the way for Australian farmers and food manufacturers to capitalise on overseas markets and foreign investment into the sector.

Leading from paddock, plate and beyond

We assist and work with everyone - from family-run farming businesses, large Australian and international food and beverage companies, and domestic and foreign investors.  We focus on the strategic and operational issues our clients face so they remain competitive, on both a domestic and global level.

We bring together legal experts backed by our integrated offering to help clients meet ongoing requirements across the entire agribusiness lifecycle, from start-up or acquisition phase, through growth, investment and expansion, regulation, marketing and supply chain operations, to disposal, restructuring and winding-up of businesses. 

We'll help you achieve the best outcome for your business and create value at any stage of the cycle.

Clients come to us for advice on:

  • Restructuring for business growth
  • Acquisitions and divestments
  • Domestic and foreign investments (including approvals)
  • Business and investment structures
  • Contracting models and standard contracts
  • Sale and leasing of agricultural land
  • Protecting brand and intellectual property (including plant breeder rights)
  • Regulatory advice (food safety, GMO, custom authorisations)
  • International trade (including import/export and FTAs)
  • Statutory interpretation of Australian agricultural legislation and policy
  • Water rights
  • Competition issues and merger control
  • Financing
  • Employment, health and safety
  • Tax and stamp duty
  • Litigation.

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Experience

Livestock

Minderoo Group: legal counsel to Minderoo Group, the private investment vehicle of Andrew Forrest, on its acquisition of Western Australia's largest beef exporter, Harvey Beef.

Elrose Beef: advised large cattle farming business on the capital injection by a foreign investor to foster expansion of the business into Asia.

Palgrove: engaged by the family-owned cattle business on its restructure and partnership with an overseas superfund to help grow its business.

Wagyu producer: advised a privately owned Australian wagyu-cattle business on the sale of assets and capital raising for a new agricultural venture.

Beef processor: advised a Japanese manufacturer of meat products on the acquisition of an Australian beef processor.

Acquisition of Consolidated Pastoral Company: acted for Flinders Limited (Guy Hands family) on the acquisition of Consolidated Pastoral Company, which holds 300,000 head of cattle and 3.2 million ha of land in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Australian Agriculture Company: assisted AACo with the set-up of its state-of-the-art Livingstone Beef processing facility in Darwin. 

North Australian Pastoral Company: engaged by NAPCO, a privately owned Australian cattle company to assist with remote working arrangements, culture and camp, animal welfare, and work, health and safety responsibilities arising from employment on the stations.

Australian banks: acted for various banks in relation to significant agribusiness exposures (principally cattle and cropping properties).

Dairy

Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Company: advised on its response to a takeover bid by TSX-listed dairy company, Saputo Inc.

Saputo Dairy Australia: legal adviser to Saputo on various sale and acquisitions, including the acquisition of Lion Dairy & Drinks speciality cheese business, the acquisition of Murray Goulburn dairy co-operative and the subsequent sale of its Koroit processing plant to Bega Cheese, and its subsequent bid for Lion Dairy.  We have also advised Saputo on various processor obligations imposed under the new Federal Dairy Code administered by the ACCC.

Tasmanian Land Co: advised on the sale of Tasmanian dairy farming assets of Van Diemen's Land to a foreign investor.

Fonterra: advised the New Zealand dairy co-operative on the acquisition of a 'cut and wrap' cheese processing facility and associated ACCC review.

Grain

DLF Seeds & Science: advised Danish-based agribusiness DLF Seeds & Science, on the Australian law aspect of their acquisition of PGG Wrightson seed and grain business for NZ$421 million.

Monsanto/Bayer:  lead Australian counsel providing ACCC advice on the Bayer/Monsanto merger to create one of the world's largest agricultural conglomerate and subsequent advice for the Bayer group on various distribution and competition issues concerning crop protection and other products.

Co-operative Bulk Handling Limited: advised grain handler and marketer CBH, Australia's largest co-operative, in relation to various matters including its acquisitions and divestments, supply and logistics arrangements and its syndicated facility and various bilateral facilities, totalling over A$1 billion.

Ridley Corporation: advised leading animal nutrition provider on the acquisition of the Camilleri stockfeeds business and the acquisition of the BPL rendering businesses, as well as various strategic supply and procurement initiatives, and compliance and governance matters.

Sugar

Sugar Terminals Limited: advised on the establishment, listing on NSX and various corporate governance and NSX matters with growers and millers, including amendments to the constitution.  We continue to advise on corporate governance aspects and other general corporate matters.

Mackay Sugar: legal adviser to Australia's second largest sugar milling company on a range of employment and health and safety matters.

Aquaculture

Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd: advised Japanese marine products company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd (Nissui) on its acquisition of a stake in ASX listed prawn farming operations Seafarms Group Limited.

Geraldton's Fishermen's Co-operative: representing the Western Australian co-operative on various matters, including leasing and subleasing of fishing entitlements, leases of processing facilities, supply agreements, intellectual property and competition issues.

Food and beverage

Collins Foods: engaged by Collins Food as legal adviser on the acquisition of more than 80 KFC stores throughout Australia, and its overseas expansion and acquisitions in Germany and the Netherlands.  Our team have assisted Collins Food on financing structures and institutional placements to fund these acquisitions. 

Suntory: advised Suntory on the sale of its Cerebos Food & Instant Coffee business in Australia, New Zealand and Asian Home Gourmet Singapore to The Kraft Heinz Company.

Trisco Foods: legal adviser to Trisco on various domestic and overseas commercial arrangements, including its expansion into the US, and continuing to advise on its expansion into other overseas markets.  We also assisted Trisco on the acquisition of assets from Saputo.

Simplot Australia: acted for the leading food manufacturer on the acquisition of various businesses, including John West business in Australia and New Zealand, Lean Cuisine brand and associated manufacturing and licensing agreements, Top Cut Foods, Chicken Tonight, Raguletto and Five Brothers and the disposal of Four n Twenty Pies.

Forestry and woodchip

New Forests: advised on various acquisitions and proposed acquisitions of plantation assets and processing facilities in both hardwoods and softwoods, as well as related port access, logistics and competition issues.

Real Estate

Saudi Agricultural Livestock Investment Company (SALIC): advised SALIC, an investment fund owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on the purchase of 211,000 ha of broad acre farm land in Western Australia's wheat belt worth $60 million and a 40,000 head sheep flock.

Clean Agriculture & International Tourism: advised the Vietnamese investor on the purchase of three cattle stations in Western Australia and Northern Territory from Consolidated Pastoral Company. This transaction marks the largest investment in Australia by a Vietnamese company.

Ridley Corporation: advised Ridley on the divestment of the Cheetham salt business, and subsequent surplus agricultural land divestments.

South Korean investor: advised a South Korean construction company on the acquisition of various pastoral stations in Western Australia.

Agtech

CeresTag: Cerestag is developing and commercialising a smart ear tag for livestock. We have advised the start up on business structuring, business protection, funding agreements and manufacturing arrangements, as well and intellectual property protection and advice.

TerViva Bioenergy: TerViva transforms distressed agricultural land into productive sources of protein and renewable bioenergy through pongamia tree crop. We advised TerViva on protecting and licensing its technology in Australia.

WEED Inc: US-based Weed Inc is focused on the development and application of cannabis-derived compounds for the treatment of human disease. We helped Weed Inc establish a presence in Australia and have advised on a range of corporate matters including, arrangements with universities in Australia, acquisitions and capital raising ventures as well as the protection of its trade marks in Australia.

Marel hf: advised this listed multi-national food processing company on the acquisition of an Australian and NZ based agtech business, providing specialist software and integrated hardware solutions for the perishable food manufacturing and distribution sectors.

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