Chinese still own Cubbie
CHINA’S $30 billion textile giant Ruyi Shandong has refused to wind down its
80 per cent stake in Australia’s largest irrigated cotton property, Cubbie Station, despite being given more than six years to do so.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show Ruyi still owns 80 per cent of Cubbie Station, via a Singapore holding company, despite committing to wind down its stake within three years of its 2012 purchase of Australia’s largest irrigation property.
Former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan approved the sale of Cubbie Station to Ruyi for $240 million on condition it “sell down its interest in the Cubbie Group from 80 per cent to 51 per cent to an independent third party (or parties) within three years”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in his former role as Coalition treasurer, then extended Ruyi’s deadline in 2016 by another three years.
Current Treasurer Josh Fydenberg appears to have washed his hands of the issue, refusing to answer questions on whether he will hold Ruyi to the original condition of the sale.
When asked what action he was taking, Mr Frydenberg said: “It is a longstanding practice that the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Treasurer do not comment on the details of foreign investment screening and subsequent processes as they apply or could apply to particular cases.”
Australian agribusinessman Roger Fletcher, whose company RF CSAG holds a 20 per cent stake in Cubbie Station, said he had nothing to say on the issue.
Ruyi Shandong’s Melbourne office issued a statement that “the three-year extension was granted in 2016 and Ruyi remains in compliance with its obligations to FIRB”.
“Unfortunately, we are not able to comment further at this stage due to confidentiality obligations,” Ruyi stated.
Meanwhile, rural communities are waiting on the Federal Government to release the 2017-18 registers of foreign-owned water and land.
The Coalition committed to the foreign water register in 2015 as part of a deal with the Greens, with any foreign person required to register their interest in water entitlements and rights from July 1 last year.
Mr Frydenberg said the Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Water Registers would be released before the end of the year, as part of “our government’s commitment to increase scrutiny and transparency in Australian agriculture”.
COTTON COMPANY: Aerial views of Cubbie Station, and its water-storage dams, after approval of the Chinese purchase of Cubbie Station, west of Dirranbandi, Queensland.
Cotton picked on Cubbie Station.