Families try to beat Rinehart cattle land bid

Andrew Tillett and Nick ButterlyThe West Australian
Pastoralist Sterling Buntine
Camera IconPastoralist Sterling Buntine Credit: The West Australian

An all-Australian rival bid to Gina Rinehart’s claim to the S. Kidman & Co cattle empire believe their offer is superior because it does not have Chinese involvement and all profits would remain local.

The syndicate of four farming families is appealing to Kidman shareholders to give them a “fair go” after the board gave Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and Chinese business partner Shanghai CRED the inside running.

The BBHO graziers’ syndicate is made up of WA and Northern Territory pastoralist Sterling Buntine, South Australian Tom Brinkworth, NSW’s Malcolm Harris and the NT’s Viv Oldfield.

Collectively they run about 400,000 head of cattle.

Under their plan, the Kidman properties, Australia’s biggest private landholder, would be broken up and amalgamated with their own holdings. The Kidman name would live on as part of a marketing arrangement selling premium Australian beef to Asia.

Syndicate members will meet bankers today to secure finance for the bid, which reportedly will be at least $10 million more than the $365 million Hancock/Shanghai CRED offer.

Mr Buntine said the syndicate was prepared to make a 100 per cent unconditional offer, in contrast to the conditional bid Mrs Rinehart and Shanghai CRED have lodged, which includes immediately divesting Anna Creek Station on national security grounds because it is next to the Woomera rocket range.

Hancock has the majority stake in its bid, but the Chinese partnership means the deal requires Foreign Investment Review Board assessment and Treasurer Scott Morrison’s approval.

Hancock Prospecting chief executive Garry Korte said the company was committed to keeping the Kidman legacy alive. “We will not break up the business that was started in 1899 by Sir Sidney Kidman and has been built up over more than 100 years,” he said.

He warned other bidders were now seeking “political favours to change the rules after the ball has bounced”.

Mr Buntine said the BBHO partners’ expertise would allow them to run Kidman more efficiently.

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