Aus­tralian-Chi­nese bid for huge cat­tle es­tate

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Aus­tralia’s rich­est woman and a Chi­nese prop­erty de­vel­oper joined forces yes­ter­day to bid for one of the world’s largest cat­tle es­tates, de­spite Can­berra’s re­jec­tion of pre­vi­ous for­eign of­fers. Aus­tralia’s big­gest pri­vate landowner, cat­tle firm S Kid­man and Co, has at­tracted keen in­ter­est from Chi­nese firms want­ing to se­cure the sprawl­ing pas­toral em­pire. But the gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ously re­jected two Chi­nese-led bids, cit­ing the na­tional in­ter­est.

Un­der the new of­fer an­nounced late yes­ter­day, min­ing mag­nate Gina Rine­hart’s Han­cock Prospect­ing will ac­quire 67 per­cent of Kid­man and Chi­nese prop­erty de­vel­oper Shang­hai CRED 33 per­cent for some Aus$365 mil­lion (US$277 mil­lion). Shang­hai CRED was part of a Chi­nese con­sor­tium in­volved in the pre­vi­ous bids. The Chi­nese stake in the cur­rent bid would be sig­nif­i­cantly smaller than pre­vi­ously.

Kid­man chair­man John Crosby wel­comed the “sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment pro­posed in ad­di­tion to the pur­chase price and (we) are con­fi­dent that the Kid­man busi­ness will be in good hands”. The first bid was re­jected last Novem­ber since part of the hold­ings con­tained a weapons test­ing area. Af­ter that, the Anna Creek sta­tion in South Aus­tralia next to a rocket test­ing range was sep­a­rated out and is no longer in­cluded in the sale.

The new bid will be partly funded by the sale of Anna Creek and will be sub­ject to ap­proval by Can­berra and Bei­jing. Apart from the con­tin­ued Chi­nese in­ter­est, the of­fer also re­flects a fur­ther push by Rine­hart-who is worth more than Aus$6 bil­lion ac­cord­ing to The Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Re­view-into agri­cul­ture.

Rine­hart’s Han­cock Prospect­ing owns 70 per­cent of the mas­sive Roy Hill iron ore mine in West­ern Aus­tralia, and has also bought cat­tle sta­tions in that state and in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory in re­cent years. Kid­man, founded in 1899, holds around 1.3 per­cent of Aus­tralia’s to­tal land area, and 2.5 per­cent of the na­tion’s agri­cul­tural land. It is cur­rently 33.9 per­cent for­eign-owned. Even with­out Anna Creek it rep­re­sents two per­cent of agri­cul­tural land. It is a key source of beef for ex­port to Ja­pan, the United States and South­east Asia. Can­berra has be­come in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the pur­chase of Aus­tralian in­fra­struc­ture and land by over­seas in­ter­ests, and in Au­gust blocked the sale of its largest elec­tric­ity net­work to for­eign­ers. —AFP

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