Kidman cattle empire won by Gina Rinehart, Chinese

Gina Rinehart
Gina Rinehart Contributed/Darryl Peroni

GINA Rinehart and a Chinese consortium have been approved to buy the massive Kidman cattle empire.

In a statement, Treasurer Scott Morrison said a local farming family would acquire the largest station in the Kidman group, Anna Creek, and its outstation The Peake.

Australian Outback Beef Pty Ltd (AOB) - owned by Ms Rinehart's company Hancock Beef Pty Ltd and Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co Ltd - would buy the remainder.

The 117-year-old family company, founded by Sir Sidney Kidman, has pastoral leases covering 101,000 square kilometres across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia.

It runs a herd of up to 185,000 cattle, producing grass-fed beef for export to Japan, the US and South-East Asia.

Mr Morrison said the sale would "will increase the level of Australian ownership of the Kidman group of properties".

Australian-owned Hancock will control the board, and will control day-to-day operation of the business, he said.

"Kidman will remain majority Australian owned under this proposal, and remain an Australian incorporated company headquartered in South Australia.

Existing environmental and other commitments will continue to be honoured.

"Outback Beef will increase herd size by 20,000 head of cattle over the next 18 months.

It it will invest up to $19 million in capital improvements to increase efficiency and carrying capacity.

"Importantly this investment will also achieve the creation of 35 new full-time permanent jobs by June 2018 while also employing many more new contractors and short terms specialists."

"This increased employment will be met by engaging local populations as far as possible, including Indigenous employees."

Kidman is 33.9 per cent foreign owned.

"With the sale of Anna Creek and The Peake, the proposal I am approving today represents a significant increase in overall Australian ownership from 66.1 per cent to 74.7 per cent."

Mr Morrison said Kidman has spoken with over 600 potential bidders, and over 30 bids were received.

Kidman is Australia's largest private land owner and holds approximately 1.3 per cent of Australia's total land area, and 2.5 per cent of Australia's agricultural land.

Of this, 99.8 per cent of Kidman land is held under leasehold arrangements.

It has 10 cattle stations, including properties across regional South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland covering 101,411 square kilometres and managing a long-term average herd of 185,000 cattle.

Mr Morrison said Australia welcomed foreign investment where it is consistent with our national interests.

"Foreign investment has underpinned the development of our nation and we must continue to attract the strong inflows of foreign capital that our economy requires. Without it, Australia's output, employment and standard of living would all be lower."

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