China, Australia Seal Deal on Purchase of Aussie Cattle Empire

CHINA & AUSTRALIA - Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison has approved the sale of Australia's largest pastoral land holding ,S. Kidman & Co, to a partnership involving local mining magnate Gina Rinehart and Chinese consortium Shanghai CRED.
calendar icon 9 December 2016
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Following months of speculation as to whether or not Mr Morrison would approve a bid involving a foreign firm, the Treasurer released a statement on Friday (9 December) formally approving the sale of the cattle empire to Australian Outback Beef (AOB), a venture 67 per cent owned by Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting and 33 per cent by China's Shanghai CRED.

Mr Morrison had previously knocked back Chinese-majority bids for the empire due to worries over "national security" and "national interest", but under the deal struck with AOB, Mr Morrison said there would be no cause for concern.

"Consistent with the recommendation from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), I have decided that the acquisition of Kidman as proposed would not be contrary to the national interest and will be permitted to proceed as proposed," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

Under the agreement, S. Kidman & Co's contentious Anna Creek holding, which backs onto the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) Woomera weapons testing range, would not be included as part of the sale to AOB.

"Under the proposal the largest station in the Kidman group, Anna Creek and its outstation The Peake, will be acquired by the Williams Family, a local farming family with properties that adjoin Anna Creek," Mr Morrison said.

"The remainder of the S. Kidman & Co. Limited business will be acquired by Australian Outback Beef Pty Ltd (Outback Beef).

"Under the proposal Australian-owned Hancock will control the Board, and will control day-to-day operation of the business. Kidman will remain majority Australian owned under this proposal, and remain an Australian incorporated company headquartered in South Australia."

Mr Morrison said the AOB deal in conjunction with the separate sale of Anna Creek would mean the Kidman cattle empire will remain majority Australian owned.

"Currently Kidman is 33.9 per cent foreign owned," Mr Morrison said. "With the sale of Anna Creek and The Peake, the proposal I am approving today represents a significant increase in overall Australian ownership from 66.1 per cent to 74.7 per cent."

Earlier this year, Mr Morrison knocked back a Chinese-majority $280 million bid for the landholding, while the AOB bid is expected to be in the ball-park of $295 million.

It is unclear as to whether or not AOB will pay less for the acquisition seeing as though the Anna Creek station is off the table.

The Kidman empire covers 101,000 square km of pastoral land, representing 2.6 per cent of Australia's total agricultural land.

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