Chinese financial groups are planning to bid for a collection of land in Australia that contains the largest cattle range in the world. The area of this land is approximately equal to that of Zhejiang Province, the 26th largest province in China — or about the same size as South Korea.
The piece of land is being sold by S. Kidman & Co, a well known family enterprise, which owns the lease rights to the ranches– a total of about 100,000 square kilometers in Australia, as well as nearly 200,000 heads of cattle. The estimated value of the land is 325 million Australian Dollars (approximately 1.51 billion RMB). At the beginning of April, Kidman announced its plan to sell the land ownership, which includes the leases of 18 ranches in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and other areas.
This sale was quick to catch the eyes of Chinese investors. The expected winning bidders include Donlinks Grain and Oil Company, Shanghai Pengxin, and a Chinese financial group led by Shanghai CRED. All these companies are privately owned and based in China. Another two private companies, Zendai and Shanshan Group, are also taking part in the bidding.
Greg Campbell, managing director of Kidman, says that the board meeting is set on November 2nd and that the board will discuss all the bidders and then recommend a preferred one to shareholders who will decide whether to accept the recommendation.
Campbell also indicated that the second stage of the bidding process is approaching its end. The process is expected to finish on Oct.27th, 2015. By then, all the bidders will have submitted their final bidding documents with binding force. If the process cannot finish on time, the sale will be put off.
Campbell points out that Kidman is working for approval of the government to carry out the auction. There are many federal legal proceedings that need to be followed for any overseas financial group looking to invest in Australian land.
The Chinese bidding reflects the increasing demand for meat of the expanding Chinese middle class. According to Brett Stuart of Global AgriTrends, demand for imported beef in China has risen 345% since 2014, and growth is expected to remain strong in the near future. China’s middle class is expected to double from 300 million to 620 million by 2020. And these economically affluent citizen will desire more beef, red wine, value goods, and unblocked internet, among other things.