Chinese interests are on the verge of securing farms covering almost 70,000ha after the biggest single offering of freehold land in WA’s history. The deal between John Nicoletti — once regarded as WA’s biggest grain grower — and Hong Kong-based CK Life Sciences is done pending approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. CK Life is expected to pay close to $35 million for Mr Nicoletti’s farms in the eastern Wheatbelt and near Mullewa. He will continue farming under a 10-year sale and leaseback arrangement and use the proceeds to pay off debt.

The 61-year-old, who has lost about 50kg since lap-band surgery, is looking forward to spending more time with his five grandchildren once the sale lifts the debt burden from his shoulders. Mr Nicoletti paid tribute to banks for standing by him in recent years when the collapse of his farming business would have spelt disaster for other Wheatbelt farmers. FULL REPORT