One of Australia’s most well-known live export companies has emerged from voluntary administration with a new owner.
- North Australian Cattle Company has been bought by exporter Ashley James
- The company was owned by a Chinese-Australian partnership that fell into administration
- The live cattle trade is experiencing a historic slowdown in shipments
North Australian Cattle Company (NACC) was founded in 1980 and run by Elders for nearly three decades until its sale to a Chinese-Australian buyer in 2017.
Earlier this year the company went into voluntary administration with debts reportedly of $3.6 million.
The company returned this week, with live export industry veteran Ashley James taking over the business.
“Over the last few months I’ve been lucky to work with a few investors and we’ve managed to purchase NACC from the administrators, which was finalised yesterday,” he said.
Mr James said if all went to plan, the new-look NACC would have its first cattle shipment loaded in November.
“Obviously there’s a bit going on with the administrators still; unfortunately all of the previous staff of NACC, including myself, were left high and dry,” he said.
“I think the key from here will be having good customers, good relationships and really concentrating on our key markets of Indonesia and Vietnam.
Mr James was NACC’s managing director when it went into administration.
When asked what had gone wrong, he said “the shareholders didn’t agree on how the business should be run”.
“There was one in Australia and two in China and they didn’t agree.
“It’s a business that needs cash to run and cashflow wasn’t forthcoming from the shareholders.”
Tough time for exporters
Mr James said it was a difficult time to take on a live export business.
“It’s not the greatest time to start, but we’re essentially back to being a start-up … so we’re going to start small, get through a wet season, and then we can look at long-term charters of vessels.”
According to the NT Livestock Exporter’s Association, the live cattle trade in northern Australia is facing a “historic slowdown in shipments” and a tough six months ahead.
“The flow-on effects of high cattle prices in Australia and market disruptions in South-East Asia are causing an abrupt slowdown in northern Australia’s live export trade,” NTLEA chief executive Tom Dawkins said.
“It’s a great story to see pastoralists rewarded with high cattle prices, but as we experience increasing farm-gate prices, that does bring into question our competitiveness [in overseas markets].”
The price of feeder steers to Indonesia (ex-Darwin) has been above $4 a kilogram throughout 2021 and has risen in October to around $4.30/kg.