The Hancock Group has defended its joint Australian-Chinese bid for the Kidman cattle empire by denying an all-Australian offer is superior.
A syndicate of four grazier families is making a $386 million bid for S Kidman and Co, effectively a couple of million dollars more than the preferred offer by Hancock Prospecting and its minority joint venture partner, Shanghai CRED.
Hancock Group chief executive Garry Korte said the Hancock JV bid was an Australian bid and Gina Rinehart was a fourth generation Australian.
“Mrs Rinehart is from a long line of great Australian pastoralists, from her great grandfather down to herself,” he said.
“The real difference between the bids is that we will maintain and secure the future of the Kidman legacy, invest in the stations and avoid seeing it split up and destroyed.”
Gina Rinehart said her bid for S Kidman and Co is better and will grow the brand.
PHOTO Gina Rinehart plans to grow treble the number of cattle owned by S Kidman and Co.
Mr Korte said S Kidman’s head office in Adelaide would not be shut down or changed and there would be no redundancies.
“We will observe high standards of pastoral care in line with Kidman’s existing standards and will not tolerate animal cruelty or illegal land clearing,” he said in an apparent reference to South Australian grazier Tom Brinkworth, a member of the rival bidding syndicate.
Mr Brinkworth was charged with animal cruelty for allegedly allowing hundreds of cattle to starve during the drought in 2007 but the case against him fell over due to misconduct by an RSPCA employee.
Several years earlier Mr Brinkworth was fined $273,000 for illegal land clearing.
Mr Korte said the Hancock structure would ensure the Kidman business continued to grow and develop, creating jobs in rural communities.
“Hancock has the capital and the stated intention to grow the Kidman business,” Mr Korte said.
“We have a minority partner that will secure a growing additional market that will assist this.”
Rinehart bid yet to be approved
The Australian syndicate, comprising the Buntine, Brinkworth, Harris and Oldfield families, has extensive land and stock holdings across five states.
Its plan is to add the Kidman properties to the individual family businesses but then market the syndicate’s combined herd under the Kidman brand.
Northern Territory pastoralist and syndicate member, Sterling Buntine, said his group’s bid was superior because it was offering more money and would treble the Kidman herd and grow the brand globally.
Mr Buntine said his group’s bid would also ensure Australia’s largest private landholding stayed in Australian hands.
S Kidman and Co has entered into a preferred bid agreement with the Hancock-Shanghai joint venture company Australian Outback Beef (AOB).
The bid is yet to receive approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.
S Kidman and Co has pastoral leases covering 101,000 square kilometres in three states and the Northern Territory, representing 2.6 percent of Australia’s agricultural land.
It runs up to 185,000 cattle and produces grass-fed beef for export to Japan, the USA and South-East Asia.