Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart will get control of most the land held by the S. Kidman & Co cattle empire in a deal which sees the holding split to isolate an area with national security issues.
The largest station in the Kidman group, Anna Creek and its outstation The Peake, will be acquired by the Williams family, local farmers with adjoining properties.
The rest will go by Australian Outback Beef, 67% owned by Rinehart’s Hancock Beef and 33% held by Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co Ltd.
The sale price hasn’t been announced. However, earlier reports said Rinehart’s bid was higher than a $386 million pitch by a group of Australian graziers.
Rinehart is building a diversified cattle holding. She has said the quality of the Kidman holding complements her existing northern cattle properties.
This purchase grows her herd size to 300,000 and makes her one of the top three beef producers.
Staff at S. Kidman & Co supported the purchase by Rinehart and her plans to invest further in the business.
“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,” says managing director Greg Campbell.
Under the deal approved by treasurer Scott Morrison, the Australian-owned Hancock will control the board and day-to-day operation of the business headquartered in South Australia. Existing environmental and other commitments will continue to be honoured.
Outback Beef says it will increase the herd size by 20,000 head of cattle over the next 18 months and invest up to $19 million in capital improvements to increase efficiency and carrying capacity.
Currently Kidman is 33.9% foreign owned. With the sale of Anna Creek and The Peake, overall Australian ownership to 74.7% from 66.1%.
Kidman is Australia’s largest private land owner and holds approximately 1.3% of Australia’s total land area and 2.5% of Australia’s agricultural land.
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.
Morrison says previous security concerns over earlier proposals have been mitigated by excision of Anna Creek, the largest single property holding in Australia, from the Outback Beef purchase. The land is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia.
Earlier this year, Chinese-based Dakang Australia Holdings and ASX-listed Australian Rural Capital Ltd offered $371 million, before withdrawing its bid in May when the sale was blocked on national interest grounds.
The cattle empire was founded by Sir Sidney Kidman in 1899.