Koch Family Unloads Montana Ranch To Rupert Murdoch For $200M

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and wife Jerry Murdoch have bought a sweeping Montana ranch from Matador Cattle Co., a subsidiary of Koch Industries, for about $200 million, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Beaverhead Ranch spans roughly 340,000 acres in southwest Montana from Dillon, Montana, south to the Idaho border and then east to Yellowstone Park, according to the Matador Cattle Co.’s website. In terms of size and price, “it is the largest ranch deal in Montana,” Chance Bernall of Beaverhead Home and Ranch Real Estate, who co-represented the seller with Joel Leadbetter of Hall and Hall, told the Journal.

Tim Murphy of Hall and Hall represented the buyers of the privately marketed property.

Founder of Koch Industries Fred Koch originally purchased the ranch more than seven decades ago, according to Matador. Today, Koch Industries is led by Fred’s son, Charles Koch, who is known for backing Republican politicians and causes alongside his late brother, David Koch.

“This is a profound responsibility,” Murdoch told the Journal via a spokesperson. “We feel privileged to assume ownership of this beautiful land and look forward to continually enhancing both the commercial cattle business and the conservation assets across the ranch.”

The spokesperson also confirmed that the Murdochs plan to spend time on the ranch and had been searching for one to buy for about a year.

About one-third of the property’s acres are deeded, and there are grazing rights on about 226,000 leased acres.

The property spans across two different counties and is home to a host of wildlife, including about 4,000 elk, 800 antelope and 1,500 mule deer, as well as a 28-mile long creek stocked with trout. The working ranch also has about 25 employee homes on it, according to Bernall.

The Koch family and their related entities are some of the largest landowners in the country, according to the Land Report. Over the years, all four Koch brothers (including Bill and the late Frederick) acquired a substantial real estate portfolio across Palm Beach, Colorado and New York.

Koch Industries has been selling off large parcels of land in the West in recent months, however, the Journal pointed out. The company sold Spring Creek Ranch, a 11,000-acre ranch in Kansas, in March. The ranch was listed for about $23.2 million, but the final sale price was not disclosed.

Likewise, Koch Industries listed Matador Ranch in Texas several months ago for $124.45 million. Listing agent Sam Middleton of Chas S. Middleton and Son said that about 100,000 acres of noncontiguous land on the ranch had been sold off in separate parcels to various buyers. According to Middleton, sales prices on the land have ranged from $900 to $1,000 per acre and 27,000 acres of the ranch remain, priced at $875 per acre.

Beaverhead Ranch will not be the first ranch in the Murdochs’ real estate portfolio. The family also owns a ranch in California and a 25,000-acre sheep and cattle farm in New South Wales, Australia.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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