Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart will attempt to persuade the Kidman cattle empire that her offer is still superior, despite being trumped over the weekend by an all-Australian consortium that made a higher bid.
A group of four wealthy graziers, known as BBHO, made a $386 million bid to acquire 100 per cent of S Kidman & Co, bettering by $21 million the offer by mining boss Ms Rinehart and her Chinese partner Shanghai CRED.
Ms Rinehart and her bid partner have the right to match it.
Tom Brinkworth, Sterling Buntine, Malcolm Harris and Viv Oldfield say under their offer, Kidman would stay totally Australian owned, won’t require approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, and would triple the size of the cattle herd marketed under the Kidman name.
“The four families comprising the consortium are deeply committed to honouring and preserving the Kidman heritage and brand which will continue under the stewardship of highly regarded and successful Australian graziers,” Mr Buntine said in a statement on Sunday.
Earlier this month, Ms Rinehart lodged a $365 million Australian-majority bid for 67 per cent of S Kidman and Co, with Chinese-owned Shanghai CRED to hold the other third.
That requires FIRB approval.
An earlier bid this year from a Chinese-led consortium was scuttled by Treasurer Scott Morrison.
To mitigate against that, the Rinehart bid excludes an area up to 26,000 hectare that is close to the politically sensitive Woomera weapons testing range.
A spokeswoman for Ms Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting said another local buyer had been lined up for that land and therefore the real difference in value between the bids was only $1 million-$2 million.
She also argued the BBHO consortium was no guarantee of getting state government approvals, needed to get pastoral leases transferred, because of dubious “track records”.
That was a reference to Mr Brinkworth, who has previously been fined for illegal land clearing and charged with animal cruelty but found not guilty.
Crossbench Senator Nick Xenophon said the BBHO should be the successful bidder.
He said the BBHO bid came from “families with great depth of experience and commercial acumen in running cattle empires and they have a plan to grow Kidman.”
“Where there is a credible, 100 per cent Australian bid, then it would be unforgivable for the federal government not to approve a 100 per cent local bid,” he told AAP on Sunday.
S Kidman and Co, founded in 1899, is Australia’s largest private landholder with properties covering 101,000 square kilometres across three states and the Northern Territory.