ADELAIDE – Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison recently approved a joint bid for the country’s largest cattle company, S. Kidman & Co.

Under the terms of the agreement a local farming family, the Williams family, will acquire the largest cattle station in the Kidman properties, Ann Creek, and its outstation, The Peake. The Williams family owns property adjoining the Anna Creek station, which covers part of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia. The WPA is used for military weapons testing, and is the largest land testing range in the world. Morrison originally blocked bids from Chinese-owned conglomerates, saying a sale of Anna Creek to a foreign business would be contrary to Australia’s national interests.

The remaining Kidman properties will be acquired by Outback Beef Pty. Ltd., which is majority owned by Hancock Beef Pty. Ltd., a subsidiary of Hancock Prospecting, a mineral and exploration company owned by Gina Rinehart, chairman of Hancock Prospecting. Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co. Ltd., has a minority interest of 33 percent in Hancock Beef.

“Outback Beef has made a commitment of significant investments into the Kidman business,” Morrison said in a statement. “Outback Beef will increase herd size by 20,000 head of cattle over the next 18 months. Outback Beef has indicated it will invest up to A$19 million in capital improvements to increase efficiency and carrying capacity.

“Importantly this investment will also achieve the creation of 35 new fulltime permanent jobs by June 2018 while also employing many more new contractors and short terms specialists,” he added. “This increased employment will be met by engaging local populations as far as possible, including Indigenous employees.”

Kidman owns 185,000 head of cattle, and its pastoral leases cover land in three states and Australia’s Northern Territory. Sidney Kidman founded the company in 1899. Today, Kidman produces grass-fed beef for export.