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Australian Treasurer welcomes reopened S Kidman sale

Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked the sale of S Kidman's cattle properties to Chinese investors last November, citing national security concerns.

Bidding for the S Kidman cattle properties has reopened to local buyers, a move welcomed by Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison after the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) blocked their sale to Chinese investors last November on national security grounds.

Australian-owned online property investment platform DomaCom and supply-chain company Linfox are thought to be among those interested in the cattle stations, according to Fairfax Media. Until the mid-November decision by the FIRB, China’s Genius Link Group and Shanghai Pengxin had been vying for ownership of Australia’s biggest cattle lands, valued at more than A$350 million ($251 million; €234 million).

The sale is still open to foreign investors whose bids have not been turned down by the FIRB, but these could be subject to counter-bids from local buyers.

S Kidman owns 10 cattle stations across South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland covering 101,411 square kilometres. But Morrison said last year that one station in particular, Anna Creek, had raised security concerns because half of its pastoral lease is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) of South Australia, a weapons testing range.

“I made a determination in November last year that the proposed acquisition of S Kidman […] by foreign investors would be contrary to the national interest and therefore did not authorise the sale to proceed,” Morrison said in a statement.

He added: “Obviously any prospective foreign investor purchase of S Kidman […] would be examined against Australia’s national interest.”