Kidman & Co cattle station sale 'still on'

28 Aug, 2016 02:00 AM
Our shareholders are still keen at a fair price - a price that reflects the state of the market.

S. Kidman & Co managing director Greg Campbell and a major shareholder Will Abel-Smith have called for common sense in the sale of the giant pastoral company's holdings.

The men say the sale process is on and was never abandoned, despite complications including national politics, leaks from participants and misreporting by the media.

The sale process, which began in May last year, has seen an aggressive $371 million bid from a Chinese company rejected by the government on the grounds it was not in the national interest.

There have been countless rumours of who may have lodged bids, and reports that the sale process for the 11 million hectares was on hold.

"The sale is still on," Mr Campbell said on Monday.

"We have Australian and foreign buyers in the loop.

"Our shareholders are still keen at a fair price - a price that reflects the state of the market."

The sale process is being conducted by Ernst & Young through Don Manifold and has come close to being finalised with an agreement in April this year that would have seen China-based Dakang Australia Holdings, backed by Shanghai Pengxin, buy the cattle station operation that spans from the Kimberley in WA to Queensland's Channel country.

Mr Abel-Smith, who has spoken for the first time since the sale began, levelled some criticism at the mixed messages the media have been sending.

"There is a lot of misinformation appearing in the press and it has made the sale process look silly," Mr Abel-Smith said.

There has also been strong opposition to the Chinese sale from many quarters including government, political parties and some in the business community.

And while there has been media attention directed toward Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and federal Treasurer Scott Morrison for their opposition to the Chinese sale, there has been support from the Greens for a more rigorous assessment of foreign investor sales of agriculture.

Greens spokesman for the Peter Whish-Wilson said the party supported the government's delays on the Kidman & Co sale.

"The Greens policy on foreign ownership has long articulated the need for a register of foreign ownership around land and water," Mr Whish-Wilson said.

"We also successfully pushed the government to lower the threshold for land sales where the Foreign Investment Review Board needs to get involved.

"The properties are enormous in scale and consist of significant environmental and indigenous cultural values,'' he said.

"While there are public concerns about the foreign ownership of land and water, the Greens believe the debate about the future of the Kidman property goes beyond this."

Other prominent Australians, such as entrepreneur Dick Smith, have called the imminent sale of S. Kidman & Co, Australia's largest landholder, to a Chinese company an act of madness.

S. Kidman & Co turns out an average of 15,000 tonnes of beef a year, supplying 1.3 per cent of Australia's boxed beef exports.

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28/08/2016 8:56:32 AM, on Farm Weekly

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