It looks like Gina Rinehart will win the race for S Kidman & Co.

Photo: Peter Parks/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart looks to have fended off a rival bid for Australia’s largest beef business, S Kidman and Co.

Four Australia graziers — Tom Brinkworth, Sterling Buntine, Malcolm Harris and Viv Oldfield (BBHO) — announced plans to make a $386 million bid for the nation’s biggest private landholder, which holds 185,000 cattle on 101,000 square kilometres across three states and the Northern Territory.

In response, Rinehart increased her offer to $386.5 million yesterday as part of a joint venture bid with China’s Shanghai CRED, which would own a third of the business, Australian Outback Beef.

Because the offer would require Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval, and federal treasurer Scott Morrison has already twice rejected foreign bids on national interest grounds, Rinehart has indicated she may go it alone on a 100% Australian-owned offer via her company Hancock Prospecting.

Today, the BBHO syndicate has pulled their bid for S Kidman & Co. offer the back of the improved Rineheart offer, leaving her as the frontrunner in the sale with the backing of the Kidman board.

The company issued a statement saying it made “what we believed to be a full and fair offer”.

It continues:

After what has been a lengthy and complex sales process we congratulate the Hancock Shanghai CRED consortium for similarly recognising the potential of the iconic Kidman brand.

BBHO would like to acknowledge the very strong groundswell of public support it has received from well-wishers across the country, all of whom recognize the importance of the Kidman name and legacy to our industry. We would also like to thank our advisors and financiers who assisted us through this process.

Each of the BBHO partners wishes the Hancock consortium well and, should they be successful in completing the acquisition, we look forward to welcoming them as neighbours.

Earlier this year, Chinese-based Dakang Australia Holdings and ASX-listed Australian Rural Capital Ltd offered $371 million for the 116-year-old pastoral business, before withdrawing its bid in May.

The Kidman portfolio includes Anna Creek Station, the largest cattle property in the world. At just under 24,000 square km – 2.4 million hectares – it is bigger than Israel, about the same size as Rwanda and seven times larger than the biggest ranch in Texas. It almost closed down in 2008 following prolonged drought, but in good times can hold up to 14,000 head of cattle.

Here’s a map of the Kidman properties across Australia, with the arrow pointing to Anna Creek Station.

The S. Kidman portfolio is 1.3% of the country’s total land area, and 2.5% of its agricultural land.


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