Major East Anglian farm business sold for the first time in its 100-year history
PUBLISHED: 14:30 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:00 30 August 2019
One of the largest agricultural businesses in the UK - which is based across Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire - has been sold for the first time in its 100-year history.
Strutt & Parker (Farms) spans rural, residential and commercial property including renewable energy operations, The Whitbreads Business Centres in Essex and a portfolio of commercial lets, along with 30,000 of farmland and potential development land.
The core of the business has been sold to Robigus Ltd which operates in conjunction with Belport, a UK-based investment and asset management company specialising in the acquisition, development and strategic management of farms and estates.
Meanwhile the company's two anaerobic digestion subsidiaries - Euston Biogas and S&P Biogas - have been sold in a separate transaction to Foresight Group, an independent infrastructure and private equity investment manager.
With more than 80 family shareholders, many of the fifth or sixth generation, the company took the decision to sell up last year.
Although agents did not disclose the total value of the sale, when it was put on the market in the autumn sources close to the company suggested the figure could be in excess of £200m.
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Company chairman Peter Tritton said: "Strutt & Parker (Farms) Limited has earned an excellent reputation over its 100-year history as a leading, innovative and diversified agricultural business.
"This acquisition provides a significant opportunity for Robigus to further enhance and expand on their ambition to be at the forefront of British agriculture. My great grandfather and founding partner Edward Strutt would approve of the opportunities that increased investment under new ownership will provide."
Charles Buckley of Belport added: "This is a company which has been at the forefront of agriculture for over 100 years and has evolved into a diverse farming and land based business. The entrepreneurial vigour afforded to the business by two great families and a loyal and supportive workforce, mirrors our vision for the future."
The sale was managed by agents at Deloitte and Savills, and Mills and Reeve advised on the legal aspects.
David Jones, corporate finance partner at Deloitte said: "We're delighted to have played our part in delivering this historically important, family owned, diversified farming business safely into new ownership.
"We know this was a difficult decision for the shareholders and there were many stakeholders' interests to manage. However, there was universal agreement that the time had come to pass the business to someone who would invest further in it, respect its traditions and culture, and secure its long term success."
Charlie Paton, director of national farm sales at Savills said: "Given the political context, the interest in the portfolio and subsequent sale is recognition of the quality and provenance of this long established company and its assets.
"Such a substantial transaction also represents a significant vote of confidence in UK agriculture."