SYDNEY - Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart and a Chinese consortium won final approval Friday to buy one of the world's biggest cattle estates, ending a lengthy and fraught sale process.
Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart and a Chinese consortium won final approval December 9, 2016, to buy one of the world's biggest cattle estates
The green light came more than a year after Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked an all-Chinese offer by Shanghai Pengxin for S. Kidman and Co Ltd, Australia's biggest private land owner, as being against the national interest.
He also knocked back a joint bid by Chinese-owned Dakang Australia Holding and Australian Rural Capital for the same reasons, with part of the land in a weapons-testing area.
There has also been growing concern in Australia about the purchase of local infrastructure and land by foreign interests.
Australia's richest woman, Rinehart then entered the fray with Chinese property developer Shanghai CRED, offering Aus$386.5 million (US$295 million), but with the tycoon's Hancock Prospecting holding a majority interest.
"Consistent with the recommendation from the Foreign Investment Review Board, 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," said Morrison.
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, running 185,000 cattle. It is a key source of beef for export to Japan, the United States and Southeast Asia.
Under the approved proposal, a neighbouring farming family will acquire the largest of the 10 stations in the Kidman group, Anna Creek, which is next to a sensitive rocket-testing range.
The rest of the empire will go to Australian Outback Beef, which is 67 percent owned by Rinehart, whose fortune comes from iron ore mining, and 33 percent by Shanghai CRED.
"I know I speak not only for myself but for many Kidman employees when I say we are pleased that Hancock, a highly respected Australian company, leads the joint venture that has received key approvals to acquire Kidman," said Kidman managing director Greg Campbell.
"Mrs. Gina Rinehart is a prominent Australian and we appreciate her desires to further invest and grow the business," he added.