ADELAIDE – A China-based holding company withdrew a bid for S. Kidman and Co., Australia’s largest cattle company, after federal officials blocked the transaction valued at A$370.7 million ($288.9 million).
The sale of Kidman was subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board and Scott Morrison, Australia’s treasurer. In a recent statement, Morrison said the sale would be contrary to Australia’s national interest.
“Australians must have confidence in how we regulate foreign investment, to ensure continued support for foreign investment that is critical to our economy in providing jobs and growth,” Morrison said. “This is a relevant consideration.
“I have concerns that the form in which the Kidman portfolio has been offered as a single aggregated asset, has rendered it difficult for Australian bidders to be able to make a competitive bid,” he explained. “The size of the asset makes it difficult for any single Australian group to acquire the entire operation.”
Approximately 50 percent of Kidman’s pastoral lease is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WAP) in South Australia. The WAP is used for military weapons testing, and Anna Creek, one of Kidman’s cattle stations, covers part of the testing range. In a restructured deal, Kidman agreed to offer the Anna Creek station to its existing shareholders or an Australia-based company.
But Morrison said he was not satisfied that his concerns had been addressed by the carve-up plan.
“The size and significance of the portfolio, combined with the impact the decision may have on broader Australian support for foreign investment in Australian agriculture, must also be taken into account in this case,” he said in a statement.
Founded by Sidney Kidman in 1899, S. Kidman owns 185,000 head of cattle, and its pastoral leases cover land in three states and Australia’s Northern Territory. The company, which local news reports say is currently 34 percent foreign-owned, produces grass-fed beef for export.