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Morrison blocks sale of 'Cattle King' Kidman & Co

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The sale of Australia’s largest private livestock landholder Kidman & Co has been blocked by Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison.

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The last stage of the transaction of the Adelaide-based company required state and federal approval, however, Morrison said the sale would be contrary to the national interest.

Kidman managing director Greg Campbell told InDaily last week the sale was in the last stage of negotiations and all that was needed was federal and state approval.

In rejecting the sale, Morrison said Kidman held about 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land area and 2.5 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land.

Campbell said a new owner was to be announced in a fortnight.

“We will make a public announcement at the end of the week, next week at least,” Campbell said on November 12.

At the time, Campbell dismissed media reports that a bidding war had erupted between two Chinese investment companies and a sale was near.

The Australian Financial Review had reported that Genius Link Asset Management had outbid Shanghai Pengxin’s $350 million offer.

Campbell said he could not name interested parties or offers as all negotiations of the sale were being conducted under a confidentiality agreement.

As part of the proposed sale to a majority owner, Kidman & Co was to hold its pastoral leases.

The company has 10 cattle stations, including properties across regional South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland covering 101,411 square kilometres and managing a long-term average herd of 185,000 cattle.

One of its stations, Anna Creek, is also the largest single property holding in Australia and around 50 per cent of its pastoral lease is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area weapons testing range in South Australia.

Morrison said that, given the size and significance of the total portfolio of Kidman properties along with the national security issues around access to the WPA, he determined that a sale in its current form would be contrary to Australia’s national interest.

“Australia welcomes foreign investment where it is consistent with our national interests,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

with AAP

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