Australia’s biggest cattle firm to sell up for $370.7 million

Kidman copy


Sydney / AFP

Australian cattle firm S. Kidman and Co. on Tuesday said a Chinese-led consortium was the preferred buyer of most of its stations, with an offer worth US$288.8 million.
Kidman, Australia’s biggest private landowner, has attracted keen interest from Chinese firms wanting to secure the sprawling pastoral empire.
It said a consortium of Dakang Australia Holdings Pty. Ltd. and ASX-listed Australian Rural Capital Ltd. (ARC) had committed to make a takeover offer to acquire 100 percent of its shares at Aus$31.38 per share.
“The offer values Kidman at Aus$370.7 million,” Kidman said in a statement, adding that it was conditional on approval by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.
Dakang Australia is 51-percent owned by a subsidiary of Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming Co. Ltd (whose major shareholder is Shanghai Pengxin Group), while 49 percent is held by the unlisted Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co. Ltd.
The takeover bid contemplates Dakang Australia acquiring 80 percent and ARC 20 percent, with the partners jointly overseeing the management of the business.
“We are very pleased to have reached agreement on the sale terms with the consortium as our preferred bidder,” Kidman chairman John Crosby said in the statement, adding that he believed it would secure the business’s long-term future.
“The Kidman board will recommend that Kidman shareholders accept the consortium’s offer subject to there being no superior proposal,” he added.
The Australian government last year blocked the sale of Kidman to foreign entities, ruling it was not in the national interest given part of its land is in a weapons testing area.
But the Anna Creek station in South Australia, which is next to a rocket testing range, will not be part of the proposed sale to the China-led consortium.
The proposal comes amid concerns about valuable agricultural and mineral assets passing into foreign hands.
But the consortium said proposed investment would increase production and expand international markets for Kidman’s beef.
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. It is a key source of beef for export to Japan, the United States and Southeast Asia.

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