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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Eastern Australia Agriculture - the early years

Angus Taylor founded Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Ltd ABN 96 126 388 163, registered 1 October 2007 to be wholly-owned by another company, Eastern Australian Irrigation (Caymans) that was registered on 6 December 2007.
ABN search result for Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Ltd registered 1 October 2007

Cayman Islands company registration search report for Eastern Australian Irrigation Limited

Three months later a British investment fund prepared its annual report stating it owned a share of Angus Taylor's Eastern Australian Irrigation (Caymans) company valued at £2,296,000 by its directors.

A news report shortly after ("Thirsty foreigners soak up scarce water rights", SMH, 4 September 2010) said that "the British investment fund Ecofin owns 20 per cent of Eastern Australia Irrigation, a company with extensive land and water holdings in south-eastern Queensland."

More recently Michael West reported "Barnaby Joyce, Angus Taylor, Australia and the Caribbean", 21 April 2019:
This British fund had a 9.6 per cent stake [in its "Interim Financial Results Announcement" to 31 March 2017] in the Caymans entity set up by Angus Taylor, Eastern Australia Irrigation (EAI). We know from statutory filings with the London Stock Exchange that EF told its shareholders in January last year that it had realised a return of 2.4 million British pounds from its investment in EAI.

It may be usual to assume that the process of founding Eastern Australia Agriculture and Eastern Australian Irrigation (Caymans) was undertaken by Angus Taylor in Australia as an independent project and then shortly after an investment fund in England was persuaded to acquire a 20 percent share valued at 2.296 million British pounds.

Perhaps in this case other arrangements were made. For example, upon Ecofin recognising the potential of investments in Australia's water resources market it might have begun looking for someone to create an investment vehicle in which it could acquire an interest.

In this scenario, any fees for the work would probably be paid on completion - that is, as soon as the investment vehicle had been established in the Cayman Islands.

The co-founder of Ecofin, Dr. David Lloyd Owen, writing in "Pinsent Masons Water Yearbook 2008 - 2009" described a positive outlook for investments in the Australian water market in the chapter "Australia" in "Part 2: Country Analysis".

One missing piece of information is the question over when and how Angus Taylor's companies he founded at the end of 2007 had been able to acquire any assets within just 3 months - by 31 March 2008.

Ronni Salt on Twitter provided this insight on 10 April 2019:
In 2007/8, our rising star Mr X [Angus Taylor] knew a good business opportunity when he saw it.

He knew farming water & its buybacks were going to be very lucrative [just as the co-founder of Ecofin, Dr. David Lloyd Owen had done at the same time].

So when he saw 2 huge farms for sale in southern QLD with millions of $$ of water rights on them, Mr X looked into them.
Company E [Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Ltd] bought those 2 huge irrigation farms - “Clyde” for $27 million, “Kia Ora” for $61 million.

The British fund "Ecofin Water & Power Opportunities plc", Company Number 4134479 in annual "Reports and Accounts" for the years ending 31 March 2008 and onwards include in its Portfolio Listings one or other of the companies founded by Angus Taylor.

For example it was listed for the first time - in the 31 March 2008 report - as "Eastern Australia Agriculture (Cayman)" as an investment in Australia with a "fair value" estimated by directors as £2.296 million.

Its estimated value changed in each successive annual report -
31 March 2009
31 March 2010
31 March 2011
31 March 2012
30 September 2013
30 September 2014
30 September 2015
£3.142 million
£3.533 million
£6.190 million
£6.515 million
£8.260 million
£6.106 million
£5.244 million

Throughout this period Eastern Australia Agriculture made repeated attempts to sell its 2 Queensland properties with their water infrastructure and licences, and also to sell water and / or water licences to the Australian Government.