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Briefcase: Business snippets from around SA


In this week’s briefcase, a $250m grain project on the Eyre Peninsula secures funding, an Adelaide law firm significantly expands its interstate offering and Angel Seafood posts record monthly sales ahead of a looming takeover.

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Eyre Peninsula grain port gets funding tick

An artist rendition of the $250m Port Spencer grain export port. Photo: supplied

Construction on a $250 million grain export port at Port Spencer on the Eyre Peninsula is set to begin as early as next month after the company in charge of the project secured funding from a Dubai-based commodities investment firm.

Peninsula Ports announced last week that Aria Commodities, a UAE-based global commodity trading firm, would be the company’s principal funding partner for its grain export port and storage facility slated for construction 20km north east of Tumby Bay.

The deep-water port, which the State Government gave major development approval in August 2020, will be capable of storing 800,000 tonnes of grain and have a ship loading capacity of 2400 tonnes per hour.

The port will be operational in time for the 2023 harvest, according to Peninsula Ports chair John Crosby.

“Aria Commodities is expanding in Australia and it sees Port Spencer as the ideal location to support Eyre Peninsula farmers as they export their high-quality grains to countries throughout the world,” Crosby said.

“Once the deep-water port is built there will be significant benefits for the region, and we hope it will provide an economic boost to not just the Eyre Peninsula, but to the state as a whole.”

Peninsula Ports expects the project to create 150 jobs during construction and 20 ongoing positions once the port is operational.

The company’s funding agreement with Aria Commodities was approved at a board meeting in Port Lincoln on Tuesday, May 3.

SA law firm pours resources into Sydney office

Adelaide law firm Cowell Clarke has gone on a corporate hiring spree to bulk up its legal practice in New South Wales.

The corporate commercial law firm, headquartered on Pirie Street, last week announced a significant expansion of its interstate offering with eight senior appointments in its Sydney office, including bringing on NSW legal heavyweight Iain Rennie as director and head of office.

Rennie’s move comes after nine years as managing director of corporate and commercial at Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors (ABLA).

He takes with him seven other former ABLA lawyers to Cowell Clarke in Sydney, three of which have been hired as directors along with one consultant, two senior associates and one associate.

Cowell Clarke managing director Rob Comazzetto, who oversaw the firm’s 2017 expansion into Sydney, said the “timing is right” for the firm to bolster its capabilities in NSW.

“Our client base in the eastern states has grown over the years and we see strong growth opportunities for our firm within this market,” Comazzetto said.

“The new team will enable us to build on our corporate and commercial offering of high-level legal services to large businesses and SMEs across industry sectors.

“This significant expansion is also in line with our strategy to capitalise on the success of Cowell Clarke’s digital solution offerings and full commercial law services.”

The hires bring Cowell Clarke’s number of staff across Adelaide and Sydney to 180. The firm also runs an office in Melbourne.

Angel reports record monthly oyster sales as takeover draws closer

South Australian oyster producer Angel Seafood posted a record month of sales in April 2022 amid strong easter demand, as a Queensland takeover bid for the Port Lincoln-based company clears another hurdle.

Angel reported selling 1.6 million oysters last month – it’s highest on record, topping the 1.4 million it sold in October 2021 prior to a November shutdown of the Coffin Bay oyster industry due to a virus outbreak.

The listed Port Lincoln company said the result was driven by “above average” demand during the easter period. The additional sales saw them reap a record $1.3 million in revenue for April.

“We have continued to see growing levels of demand for our pristine oysters, and our team’s ability to manage our stock position has allowed us generate this new monthly record,” Angel CEO Zac Halman told the ASX last week.

It comes as a takeover bid for the company from Queensland agribusiness fund managers Laguna Bay draws closer to completion.

The takeover, which has the backing of Angel’s directors, last week received approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, which confirmed the federal government had no objections to the proposed takeover.

A scheme booklet outlining the terms of the proposed acquisition is set to be distributed to shareholders on June 11.

Angel opened trading today at $0.195 a share. It’s shares have been trading roughly 50 per cent higher since Laguna Bay revealed its takeover bid in February.

Changing of the guard at Leedwell

Leedwell Property has attracted two new equity partners as it prepares to say goodbye to its co-founder John Savva later this year.

The Unley commercial real estate firm, which in 2018 opened its first office in Melbourne, has announced that industrial director Henry Treloar and trust accountant Brad Feast have both made the step up to equity partner.

Treloar has been with Leedwell since 2014 while Feast joined in 2017. The duo will join founding partners Steve Smith and Andrew Zammit along with former JLL boss Jamie Guerra and Melbourne-based Chris Parry in leading the commercial firm.

Smith said Treloar and Feast would play “a critical role” in shaping Leedwell’s future “as we continue to move from a partnership model to a corporate structure that provides new opportunities for our people and supports our growth trajectory”.

Meanwhile, Savva, who co-founded Leedwell in 2009, is set to leave his partnership with the firm at the end of the financial year to pursue “property development and other career opportunities”.

“John has been fundamental in establishing Leedwell as a national leader in commercial property, but we’ve always known his passion lies in development,” Smith said.

“He leaves Leedwell in a very strong position, with the opportunity to bolster our commercial real estate offering in line with our national ambitions for the business.”

Adelaide Uni backs hydrogen-boron laser project 

Sydney laser fusion energy start-up HB11 Energy has been awarded $22 million from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales to develop new laser technologies capable of generating hydrogen-boron fusion.

Hydrogen-boron reactions can provide large amounts of power for hydrogen generation or base-load grid electricity while producing less amounts of waste as they do not produce neutrons during their primary reaction.

The $22m in funds will see HB11 Energy explore a proof-of-concept design and development of a new petawatt laser capable of generating hydrogen-boron reactions.

HB11 says the technology could result in “reliable energy at better prices and in greater abundance than all existing renewable energy sources combined”.

The money to explore the technology comes from a $50 million federal government grant awarded to the University of Adelaide and the University of NSW’s for their joint-defence research commercialisation initiative “Defence Trailblazer: Concept to Sovereign Capability”.

HB11 founder and managing director Dr Warren McKenzie touted the nuclear fusion energy industry as potentially creating “billions in economic value for Australia”.

“If HB11 Energy’s research program is successful, it will place Australia at the heart of an industry deploying the only truly safe, scalable, and extremely low-cost future energy,” he said in a statement.

“On this journey, there is also a new multi-billion-dollar industry to be built in both manufacturing these lasers and developing their applications in industries such as clean energy, health, manufacturing, quantum computing, and many others.

“This Trailblazer grant opens a fantastic opportunity for Australia to lead these new industries and capture new advanced manufacturing opportunities that will grow from them.”

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