Thursday, October 20, 2016

Local Bloc Seeks to Counter Bid for Australian Cattle Empire

CANBERRA, Australia—Nationalist lawmakers have teamed up with local ranchers to try to counter a bid involving Chinese buyers for the S. Kidman & Co. cattle empire, in what would be one of Australia’s biggest agribusiness deals. Independent and small-party lawmakers courted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to backstop his one-seat majority, threw their influence Thursday behind a potential “all-Australian” offer for the Kidman ranches, which cover an area larger than Ireland. The bid by the BBHO syndicate, yet to be formalized, is expected to value the ranches at $385 Australian dollars (U.S. $295 million) and would pit some of Australia’s wealthiest ranchers against mining billionaire Gina Rinehart and China-based partners Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co. They have offered A$365 million for Kidman. The cattle empire includes the world’s largest cattle ranch—Anna Creek Station, located beside a strategic missile range. Surging Chinese investment in housing and trophy agriculture assets is triggering a backlash in major economies from Europe to the U.S., as well as Australia. The government has repeatedly stated the country’s openness to foreign, and specifically Chinese, investment, but Mr. Turnbull has faced pressure from within his conservative coalition and from fringe lawmakers to oppose any foreign farm takeovers...more

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