Four of Australia’s wealthiest farming barons are joining forces to prevent Chinese investors from buying S. Kidman & Co., the country’s largest cattle farm.
The BBHO consortium comprising the families of influential Australian outback ranchers Tom Brinkworth, Sterling Buntine, Malcolm Harris and Viv Oldfield said it has secured financing to offer A$386 million (US$294 million) for 100 percent of Kidman’s shares in what would be one of the country’s biggest agribusiness deals on record, the Wall Street Journal reports.
A spokesman for the consortium said the bidders have notified the S. Kidman board of their intentions and plan to formally lodge the offer “within the next few days”.
The all-Australian bid trumps a rival offer by Chinese property conglomerate Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co. and mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, who teamed up earlier this month offering A$365 million for the vast farming operation which straddles an area larger than Ireland.
“We have developed a compelling and superior proposal to that recently supported by the Kidman board which will see Kidman 100 percent Australian owned,” said Sterling Buntine, the spokesman for the BBHO consortium.
Buntine said the new offer, unlike the rival bid, wouldn’t require approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, which advises the Australian government on corporate takeover bids from abroad.
The regulators and Treasurer Scott Morrison earlier this year blocked an offer for Kidman headed by a China-based consortium, which would have put 80 percent of the century-old cattle empire in Chinese hands.
At the time, the government said the deal wasn’t in Australia’s interest, in a signal of rising official concern about offshore investment in the country’s agricultural trophies.
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