China's Donlinks Grain & Oil Co Ltd bids for S.Kidman & Co

Some of S. Kidman & Co's cattle stations are within the top-secret Woomera rocket range. (Photo: Glenn Campbell)
Australian Financial Review | 1 October 2015

China's Donlinks Grain & Oil Co Ltd bids for S.Kidman & Co

by Lisa Murray Matthew Cranston

A Guangzhou-based vegetable oil producer is the latest Chinese bidder to enter the race for S. Kidman & Co, Australia's largest landholder.

In a statement to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Donlinks Grain and Oil Company, one of China's biggest vegetable oil producers, said it would partner with British Virgin lslands-registered Genius Link Capital, to make a second-round offer at the end of this month.

S. Kidman & Co runs one of the largest landholders and beef producers, spanning 100,000 square kilometres, and is expected to fetch more than $325 million.

If successful, Donlinks would end up owning a 51 per cent stake in Kidman, which covers almost 11 million hectares of cattle stations – including the world's largest, Anna Creek.

Donlinks said it would make its offer on October 27 after signing a memorandum of understanding with Genius Link this week.

According to the statement, Genius Link was set up in the Virgin Islands in February this year with $US50,000 ($70,878) of registered capital and two directors.

Donlinks, which imports soybeans and produces vegetable oil and animal feed, has struggled over the past 18 months with falling prices and demand.

Last year it spent nearly 3.5 billion yuan ($773 million) buying a state-owned fertiliser business in a bid to diversify its operations.

Earlier this year, it said its first-half loss had narrowed to 29.2 million yuan from 340.7 million yuan year ago.

Donlinks follows a list of interested Chinese bidders looking to buy the S. Kidman & Co business including a consortium comprising state-backed developer Shanghai CRED and two private companies; financial services group Zendai and textile, property and logistics conglomerate Shanshan Group.

Shanghai Pengxin Group, which is a substantial owner of New Zealand farmland, has also been linked to the sales of both Kidman and Consolidated Pastoral Company.

Any purchase would be made through Pengxin's listed subsidiary, Dakang Farming, which has a market cap of $3.4 billion.

The Chinese investment in Australia's rural land has rapidly gathered pace this year with $120 million in rural land transactions in the last two months.

The sale process of S. Kidman & Co is being run by EY which expects to announce a winner later this year.

There has been wide, international interest in the process and national security questions have been raised.

The Department of Defence has said any new owners would be subject to a security assessment because S. Kidman & Co owns property in the top-secret Woomera rocket range.

Sources have said Pine Gap, which is jointly operated by the US and Australia may also complicate the sales process for foreign-owned bidders, though any S. Kidman & Co stations are hundreds of kilometres away from the Northern Territory satellite tracking station.

Original source: Financial Review

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