NSW gov finds pearl in oyster industry

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW and Small Business John Barilaro, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and Member for Bega Andrew Constance today announced an equity investment of $3.3 million in Australia’s Oyster Coast (AOC) – a group of Australia’s leading oyster growers based on the NSW South Coast.

The NSW Government’s $3.3 million investment will combine with a $6.7 million co-investment from First State Super, as part of the government’s new GO NSW Equity Fund, established with partners First State Super and ROC Partners last year.

Barilaro said the deal – which will see the government take an ownership stake in AOC – is the second investment under the fund.

“NSW has the biggest and best oyster industry in Australia, and we’re backing AOC to build its brand and business operations at home and overseas,” Barilaro said.

“Importantly this investment will allow AOC to more than double its workforce to 75, creating 40 new full time equivalent jobs.

“What’s so pleasing for me, as the Minister for Regional NSW, is that our first two investments through this new fund have been in agricultural businesses, based in regional NSW.

“This isn’t a helping hand for these oyster growers, it’s a smart business decision – an investment that’s backed by industry experts.

“Any returns we reap for our investment will be re-invested by the fund in other high-potential companies across NSW.

“It shows that if you are in NSW, have a great product and receive a bit of smart backing from the NSW Government then the world really is your oyster,” he said.

First State Super Chief Investment Officer Damian Graham said the deal was another great outcome from the partnership with the NSW Government.

“The investment in Australia’s Oyster Coast reflects our approach to investing in the communities where our members live, work and retire. It will not only deliver returns to our members but will provide capital to help expand an important regional industry on the south coast,” Mr Graham said.

“AOC will use the capital to acquire new leases, invest in new technologies like floating mesh bags to improve productivity and the growth rate of oysters, improve infrastructure, secure a North Coast processing facility and invest in new marketing campaigns,” he said.

Managing Director of ROC Partners Michael Lukin said the firm, as part of its role to identify the best investment opportunities for the fund, was finding many attractive options in regional NSW.

“We are excited by the opportunities in regional NSW we are uncovering as part of our role in the GO NSW Equity Fund,” Lukin said.

Mark Allsopp, AOC CEO said Australia’s Oyster Coast is unique as it produces three varieties of premium oysters, including the Sydney Rock Oyster, the rare Angasi ‘flat oyster’ and the popular Pacific Oyster.

“These oysters are grown under rigorous environmental management systems in some of the world’s cleanest waters by passionate growers with generations of experience – we’re delighted that this investment will support more growth,” he said.

Member for Bega Andrew Constance said he was pleased the investment will deliver more jobs to Australia’s Oyster Coast.

“AOC has done a fantastic job for the region since it was formed in 2013 by eight local growers. They’ve built a recognised brand for their product and I look forward to seeing the results of this significant backing,” Constance said.