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October 11, 2016

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Consortium offers to buy Aussie ranches

AN Australian-Chinese consortium has offered to buy Australia’s largest cattle empire in a bid welcomed yesterday by the Australian agriculture minister.

Hancock Prospecting Pty said on Sunday that it would take a 67 percent stake and Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co a 33 percent holding in Australia’s largest private landholding, S. Kidman & Co, for A$365 million (US$277 million).

The Australian government announced in May that the collection of 10 cattle ranches, a bull breeding stud and a feed lot covering 101,411 square kilometers in four states — South Australia, Western Australian, Queensland and the Northern Territory — would never be sold to foreign interests when it vetoed a Chinese-led bid.

The current bid will also need Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

But Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, a friend of Hancock Chairwoman Gina Rinehart, welcomed the interest by the Australia-led consortium.

“I’m always enthusiastic when ... a majority Australian company is buying Australian land,” Joyce told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“Most Australians prefer it if a large Australian asset is majority owned by Australians as opposed to majority owned by foreigners,” he said.

Before this sale is final it will also require the state governments to change the pastoral lease holdings, while it also requires approval from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the finance and commerce ministries, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.


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