Treasurer Scott Morrison has approved the sale of Australia’s largest pastoral land holding, S. Kidman & Co – which backs on to the Woomera military range – to a local family plus a partnership involving local mining magnate Gina Rinehart and Chinese consortium Shanghai CRED.
Having previously knocked back the sale on national interest grounds, Mr Morrison yesterday said he had now approved the sale of S. Kidman & Co. Limited under a proposal that would increase the level of Australian ownership in the properties.
“Previous security concerns that influenced my earlier rejections of sale proposals have been mitigated by excision of Anna Creek, the largest single property holding in Australia, part of which is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia, from the proposed sale,” Mr Morrison said.
“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.
“The remainder of the S. Kidman and Co. Limited business will be acquired by Australian Outback Beef Pty Ltd, which is majority owned (67 per cent) by Hancock Beef Pty Ltd, with a minority interest of 33 per cent held by Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co. Ltd.
“Currently Kidman is 33.9 per cent foreign owned. With the sale of Anna Creek and The Peake, the proposal I am approving today [10 Dec 2016] represents a significant increase in overall Australian ownership from 66.1 per cent to 74.7 per cent.
“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.
“Kidman is Australia’s largest private land owner and holds approximately 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land area, and 2.5 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land,” Mr Morrison said.
“It has 10 cattle stations, including properties across regional South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland covering 101,411 square kilometres and managing a long-term average herd of 185,000 cattle.
“This is a significantly larger than the next biggest rural landholding in the country.”
Mr Morrison said that under the new sale proposal, Australian-owned Hancock will control the board, as well as 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.”
He said Outback Beef had indicated it would invest up to $19 million in capital improvements to increase efficiency and carrying capacity on the property, and increase the beef herd by 20,000 head.