James Thomson Editor

James Thomson is the editor of BRW. Previously he was editor and publisher of SmartCompany and a senior editor at Business Spectator. He writes regularly on Australia's wealthiest entrepreneurs and has deep expertise in small business and the mid market.

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Why Bob Ingham’s second big sell-off won’t be the end of his pay days

Published 11 March 2013 09:50, Updated 12 March 2013 10:46

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Why Bob Ingham’s second big sell-off won’t be the end of his pay days

Robby (left) and Bob Ingham after Woodland Stud’s runner Forensics took out the 2007 Golden Slipper. Photo: Simon Alekna

And so a fabulous story of Australia’s agribusiness sector comes to an end with Bob Ingham finally selling his family’s poultry group Inghams Enterprises for $880 million to private equity firm TPG.

“I am extremely proud of the business and its achievements to date, and it is exciting to see the business embarking on its next stage of growth under the ownership of TPG,” Ingham said in a statement.

Bob became the sole shareholder of the business following the death of his brother Jack in 2003.

He was valued at $1.15 billion on BRW’s Rich 200 list and the sale of Inghams Enterprises is likely to lift his valuation slightly.

The TPG deal is Bob Ingham’s second big sell-off in the past five years.

In 2008, he sold the racing and breeding operation he and Jack had built up, the iconic Woodlands Stud, to Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s Darley Stud for a staggering $500 million.

Interestingly, the TPG deal leaves Ingham in line for a third pay day.

Under the conditions of the deal, Bob and his family will retain property assets and his current, much smaller racing operations. The reported terms of the deal value those assets at $120 million, but as TPG expands Inghams and Bob throws himself into building up his racing operations, that valuation could rise.

The TPG deal, which was finally completed on March 9 after almost eight months of negotiations, will see the Ingham family walk away from a business that has been at the centre of their lives for almost a century.

Bob and Jack’s father, Walter, started the empire in 1918 with just one cockerel and six hens, and built the business through the Depression and war years.

When Walter died in 1953, he left the brothers two assets they would turn into pots of gold: a thoroughbred broodmare called Valiant Rose – who was descended from a champion English racehorse and would become the cornerstone of Woodlands Stud – and a 17-hectare chicken farm.

Bob and Jack transformed that farm into Australia’s biggest chicken producer, which today sells one in three chickens in Australia and generates annual revenue of $2.2 billion.

Inghams Enterprises is forecast to generate earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $210 million in the 2013 financial year and reports suggest its cash flow was exceptional.

Bob Ingham and his late brother Jack with champion horse Octagonal at Warwick Farm in 2007. Photo: Fairfax Media

Not surprisingly, those numbers sparked a bidding war between a number of potential buyers, with private equity firm Blackstone Group the under bidder. Inghams chief executive Kevin McBain will stay on under TPG’s control.

As for Bob Ingham, expect him to enjoy a long retirement not far from the racetrack.

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