Rinehart wins approval to buy Kidman stations

Gina Rinehart will buy Anna Creek cattle station. Picture: ABC
Gina Rinehart will buy Anna Creek cattle station. Picture: ABC

A Gina Rinehart-led takeover offer for S. Kidman & Co, Australia’s largest landholder, has been waved through by Treasurer Scott Morrison, bringing an end to the long-running sale saga.

Rinehart teamed up with Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co to make a $365 million bid in October after a Shanghai Pengxin-led consortium’s bid for the cattle stations was blocked on national interest grounds in April. The offer was later raised to $386.5 million after a rival bid was lodged by some of the country’s wealthiest farming families.

Rinehart and Shanghai CRED own two-thirds and one-third of Outback Beef, the company pursuing the purchase, respectively.

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Kidman’s operates 10 cattle stations, which account for about 1.3% of Australia’s total land area.

“Outback beef has made a commitment of significant investments into the Kidman business,” Morrison says.

“The sale process has been extensive and heavily scrutinised, and afforded ample opportunity for Australian bidders to participate.

“Previous security concerns that influenced my earlier rejection of sale proposals have been mitigated by excision of Anna Creek, the largest single property in Australia part of which is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia, from the proposed sale to Outback Beef.”

Gina Rinehart.

Gina Rinehart.

That property will be purchased by the Williams Cattle Company, which runs other pastoral operations adjacent to Anna Creek.

Rinehart says the acquisition will leave her firm, Hancock, as one of the top three beef producers in the country with a herd of around 300,000 cattle.

“Three quarters of this country’s beef production is exported, and export markets are critical for the industry’s future,” Rinehart says.

“The Treasurer’s approach for the sale of Kidman has enabled a local Australian company to pay a fair market price and retain Kidman in Australian control.”

Approvals by Chinese authorities, also required as part of Shanghai CRED’s involvement, are expected soon, she says.

Rinehart has begun to aggressively expand her cattle holdings in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, most recently swooping on two pastoral stations spanning more than 550,000ha owned by Indonesian firm Japfa Santori.

That deal, finalised earlier this year, added the Riveren and Inverway stations to a portfolio that includes the Liveringa and Nerrima stations, as well as the 400,000ha Fossil Downs Station in the Kimberley — acquired last year for as much as $30 million.

The elongated auction process saw over 30 bids filter through for the business, while the seller spoke to over 600 potential suitors as a balance was sought between meeting the demands of the government while reaping the best possible sale price.

– with Kylar Loussikian

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.