Thursday, April 25, 2024

Rural Land capital nears halfway mark

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New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZL) has raised a further $20 million of capital in a two-for-three rights issue to existing shareholders, about half of the targeted amount.
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A shortfall of approximately $21.6m remains, which the company will look to place within the next three months and is confident this can be done with institutional and wholesale investors.

Before the latest offer, NZL raised $75m in late 2020, with an initial public offer at $1.25 a share.

It then had 60.46m shares issued, which has now grown to 78.93m and a new market capitalisation of approximately $86m.

Executive director Chris Swasbrook says the rights issue was at $1.10 a share, targeting $44m, and was supported by domestic institutions and many existing smaller shareholders.

Some shareholders and entities did not take up their rights because rural land investment was already at the desired size in their portfolios.

The company has debt of $54m and dairying assets of $123m, mainly farms and buildings of the former Van Leeuwen Group in South Canterbury and North Otago.

Since the start of the new dairy season, second-generation Van Leeuwens are now sharemilkers of the NZL farms, paying about $6m annually in leases at a rate of 5%.

He says the second capital raise only six months after the IPO was to take advantage of favourable timing for rural land investing.

He cited the combination of low interest rates, attractive farm values and the absence of international investors in the market.

The company has a potential pipeline of assets in dairying, viticulture, horticulture and green energy.

Under its capital management policy, the primary mechanism for raising capital is through pro rata rights issues.

This ensures that existing shareholders receive a first and proportionate right to participate.

Accordingly, rights issues are not expected to be fully subscribed.

NZL will have a shortfall to place, on no more favourable terms, with institutions and wholesale investors to enable it to broaden its investor base.

He says that is desirable for future growth of the rural asset owner.

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