TREASURER Scott Morrison has announced an “independent and external review” of the sale of Australian pastoral giant S.Kidman & Co to a China-backed consortium.–co-sale/news-story/b5859fe071949337ff6ea4271e52ac45

The review is in addition to extending the deadline for the required Foreign Investment Review Board and treasurer-approval for the sale to go ahead, from 30 days to 90.

Kidman revealed yesterday China-backed Dakang Australia and the ASX-listed Australian Rural Capital entered a bid valued at $370.7 million.

Dakang’s biggest shareholder is Shanghai Pengxin Group, whose previous bid for the Kidman properties — covering 101,000 square kilometres in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory — was knocked back by Mr Morrison late last year on grounds of national security.

This morning, Mr Morrison confirmed the extension to 90 days for his consideration of the sale, as well as announcing the independent review.

“National interest considerations of proposed transactions should not and will not be rushed on an important matter such as this,” he said.

“I want to be absolutely confident when I finally consider this matter that Australians have had every opportunity to be participating in that process … It is important we do the right thing by the national interest and that’s what I intend to do.”

Under the Dakang-Australian Rural Capital deal, the consortium will acquire 100 per cent share in Kidman valued at $31.38 per share. Dakang Australia will pay 80 per cent of the purchase price.

The earlier bid for Kidman was knocked back due to the location of the 2.3 million-ha Anna Creek cattle station — part of the Kidman leases — near a defence weapons-testing range.

The Anna Creek property has now been carved out of the sale and is understood to have found a potential South Australian buyer.

The new Kidman bid comes as debate around foreign investment continues to intensify. A Senate inquiry into the Foreign Investment Review Board recently recommended changes that would make FIRB and the treasurer’s decision-making process more transparent

TREASURER Scott Morrison has called for an “independent and external review” of the sale of Australian pastoral giant S.Kidman & Co to a China-backed consortium.
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