Co-op sells farm division to The Wellcome Trust

The Co-operative Group has sold its farm business to The Wellcome Trust for a reported £249m to help cut its debt.

The purchase involves The Co-operative’s existing farming operations, including: 15,997 hectares (39,533 acres) of freehold and third-party-owned land; 15 farms, including three pack houses; over 100 residential properties; and 27 commercial properties.

“We believe we are ideally placed to develop and grow The Co-operative Group’s farms and farm business, while providing continuity, and we are delighted to have acquired them in what will be one of the largest global deals of its kind,” commented Danny Truell, chief investment officer of The Wellcome Trust.

The Co-operative Group, which reported losses of £2.5bn for the year ending April 2014 after what the company named a “disastrous year”, said it will now focus on its core “retail and consumer services divisions”, including Food and Funeralcare.

Richard Pennycook, interim group chief executive of The Co-operative Group, commented on the buy-out: “The successful sale of our farms business is another important development for The Co-operative Group. The sale proceeds will enable us to further reduce our debt and progress with the delivery of the clear strategic plans we have in place for our core retail and consumer services’ divisions.”

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