Joint Aussie and Chinese bid for giant cattle station
AUSTRALIA’S richest woman and a Chinese property developer have joined forces to bid for one of the world’s largest cattle stations, 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 national interest.
Under the new offer, mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting will acquire 67 percent of Kidman and Chinese property developer Shanghai CRED 33pc for A$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 before.
Kidman chair 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.
The Anna Creek station in South Australia next to a rocket testing range was subsequently separated and is not included in the deal.
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 Ms Rinehart – who is worth more than A$6 billion according to The Australian Financial Review – into agriculture.
Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting owns 70pc of the massive Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia, and has bought cattle stations in that state and in the Northern Territory in recent years.
Kidman, founded in 1899, holds around 1.3pc of Australia’s total land area, and 2.5pc of the nation’s agricultural land. It is currently 33.9pc foreign-owned.
Even without Anna Creek it represents 2pc 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. –