Rinehart inceases bid for Kidman cattle
Gina Rinehart has signalled her determination to win a bidding war for the Kidman cattle empire, increasing her bid and vowing to go it alone if she cannot get regulatory approval because of her Chinese partners.
Ms Rinehart's Hancock Group announced on Thursday that it's AOB consortium with Chinese partners Shanghai CRED had upped its offer to take over S Kidman and Co to $386.5 million.
That trumps the $386 million rival all-Australian bid by BBHO, a consortium comprising four wealthy graziers the Buntine, Brinkworth, Harris and Oldfield families.
The previous AOB offer was a $365 million bid.
That bid excluded the 23,000 square kilometre Anna Creek, the world's largest working cattle station, over political sensitivities around its location close to the Woomera weapons testing range.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has already twice rejected sales of S Kidman and Co, the nation's largest private landholder with 185,000 cattle across various states, to Chinese-led consortiums in the past year on national interest grounds.
Thursday's Hancock statement said the new $386.5 million bid was for 100 per cent of Kidman, including 67 per cent for Hancock and 33 per cent for Shanghai CRED, implying that another group with a Chinese partner was trying to buy Anna Creek.
However AAP understands that would not be the case and if AOB wins then a third party, the South Australian-based Williams Cattle Company, will simultaneously buy Anna Creek off AOB for about $15 million to $16 million to negate any national interest worries.
That means Thursday's higher bid will only cost about a few million dollars more for the billionaire mining magnate Ms Rinehart, Australia's richest woman.
Mrs Rinehart also said she would go it alone and Hancock had the money to buy 100 per cent of Kidman without Shanghai CRED if the bid did not get Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
BBHO can increase their bid, but the Hancock-Shanghai group has preferred bidder status, meaning it is allowed to match any rival bids.
Kidman's directors have unanimously recommended Ms Rinehart's bid in the absence of a superior proposal.
"Under the Hancock JV offer the core Kidman business will remain intact and the Kidman staff and legacy will be looked after," Kidman chairman John Crosby said.
The BBHO offer would keep the cattle Australian owned and branded as Kidman but would involve a break-up of its portfolio among the four grazier families, which the Kidman board does not want.
Ms Rinehart said buying the Kidman business means a great deal to her personally, given she had family ties with pastoralist Sidney Kidman, who founded the company in 1899, and she would create jobs.
"My grandfather, James Nicholas, owned stations together with Sir Sidney Kidman in South Australia and they jointly owned a successful coach business in the east as well as in West Australia," she said in a statement.