Co-op Sells Farming Business To Wellcome Trust
The Co-operative Group is to sell its farming business to the Wellcome Trust for £249m.
The net proceeds of the sale will be used to reduce the group's debt and invest in the Co-op's core retail and consumer services divisions.
It leaves the Co-op to focus on its food shops, funeralcare and insurance businesses.
As part of the deal 15 farms spanning 40,000 acres of land will be sold, bringing the Co-operative's 118 years in farming to an end.
Co-op's Interim Group chief executive Richard Pennycook said: "In the Wellcome Trust we have a buyer whose values are closely aligned to those of The Co-operative.
"They have a proven track record in managing a sustainable investment portfolio, the proceeds of which are used to fund improvements in biomedical science and learning."
He added: "The Wellcome Trust has acquired an excellent farming business characterised by the quality and professionalism of colleagues and high levels of customer service.
"I expect the farming business to continue to thrive under their committed long-term ownership."
Charitable body the Wellcome Trust owns property valued at around £1.8bn.
The organisation's chief investment officer Danny Truell said: "The Trust's philosophy is to provide long-term investment for the businesses and property we hold in good times and in bad.
"We will take this approach to running Farmcare Trading as a going concern, giving a business that is already strong and successful the support and resources it needs to grow, to the benefit of employees, tenants, partners and local communities."
Co-op's latest sale comes after the group sold its pharmacy stores to Bestway for £620m last month.