Australian govt to closely scrutinize sale of cattle empire to Chinese firm

Update time:2016-04-20  source:

CANBERRA - Australia fully welcomes foreign investment but the government will "very carefully" look at a bid by Chinese consortium Dakang Australia Holdings to purchase one of Australia's largest beef companies, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday.

 

Turnbull said it was important to encourage foreign investment, particularly from China, but admitted Australia needs to "get the balance right".

 

One of Australia's largest pastoral land holdings, S Kidman and Co, has received a $290 million bid from Dakang Australia in conjunction with Australian-listed firm, Australian Rural Capital Ltd, but before the sale is finalized, the bid must be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

 

Last November, Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked the sale of S Kidman and Co to a Chinese buyer after he determined the sale was not in the national interest.

 

Turnbull said some voters were uneasy about the sale of major land assets such as S Kidman and Co, which has land holdings of more than 100,000 square kilometers to foreign companies.

 

"We look at such sales very, very carefully," Turnbull told Adelaide radio.

 

"We do benefit from foreign investment (but we need to) get the balance right."

 

The government still needs to review the bid before it is allowed, but S Kidman chairman John Crosby told News Corp the proposal from Dakang would provide a "solid platform" for the long-term growth of the company.

 

"We believe Dakang Australia and ARC will be good custodians of the business and this transaction will provide a solid platform for growth and, at the same time, an opportunity for Australians to participate in Kidman's future," Crosby said.

 

S Kidman owns significant amounts of lands across Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the northern territory, with its major export being grass-fed beef for export to Asia and the United States.