Australia really doesn’t want the Chinese to own a big chunk of its land. In the latest chapter in a protracted back-and-forth over the sale of Australian company S. Kidman & Co.
Australia’s treasurer said Friday that he is poised to block a Chinese consortium’s bid to buy the agricultural giant. Scott Morrison told Dakang Australia Holdings, which is led by Shanghai Pengxin Group, that he is concerned with the “size and significance” of the $285 million purchase of what equates to 1% of Australia’s landmass. Because Kidman is being sold as a “single aggregated asset,” it’s difficult for Australia bidders to compete for the company, Morrison said, according to the Financial Times.
Kidman, a family-owned business, was founded in 1899 by so-called cattle king Sidney Kidman. It controls more than 11 million hectares of pastoral leases and owns about 185,000 cattle. The preliminary decision by Morrison to reject the deal is the second time he’s snuffed out a Chinese bid for Kidman. In the first instance, four separate groups linked to Chinese-based investors had been vying for all of the Kidman property –2.5% of Australia’s total farming land that was roughly the size of Kentucky.
Morrison put the kibosh on that sale because a large part of the land was within the Woomera Prohibited Area, a weapons testing site in the state of South Australia.
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