Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart to buy Kidman estate

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAustralia's richest woman Gina Rinehart is worth an estimated $12.4bn

Australia has given approval for the sale of the country's largest private landholding, the Kidman estate.

It will go to Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, and her business partner, Chinese developer Shanghai CRED.

The largest Kidman station, Anna Creek, will be sold to a local farming family.

The sale of the estate, encompassing about 1.3% of Australian land, had been halted several times due to concerns about foreign interests.

Kidman estate said in a statement that "all Australian regulatory approvals for the sale have now been met, 99% of Kidman shareholders have accepted the offer, and the announcement means the sale can now progress to its conclusion".

image captionGrass-fed cattle in Kidman's Naryilco property in Queensland

Ms Rinehart's company Hancock Prospecting and Shanghai CRED submitted their bid of A$386.5m (£228.9; $288.2m) in October under an entity called Outback Beef. The proposal was for Hancock Prospecting to hold 67%, with the rest held by Shanghai CRED. It aimed to overcome government concerns about foreign investment.

Previous Chinese-led bids were blocked by the government, which cited national security concerns. The Kidman estate was originally offered for sale in April 2015.

The Anna Creek cattle station - the largest one in the Kidman group - is not part of the Rinehart deal. That farm, together with its outstation The Peake, will be acquired by the Williams family who own properties that adjoin Anna Creek.

With the sale of Anna Creek and The Peake, Kidman's Australian ownership increases from 66.1% to 74.7%.

Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison said: "Previous security concerns that influenced my earlier rejections of sale proposals have been mitigated by excision of Anna Creek, the largest single property holding in Australia part of which is located in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia, from the proposed sale to Outback Beef.

"Australia welcomes foreign investment where it is consistent with our national interests."

Some of the farms are close to a government weapons-testing range at Woomera, sparking concerns about Kidman falling into foreign hands.

The landholding has 10 cattle ranches, a bull breeding stud and a feed lot covering 101,411 sq km (39,155 sq miles) in four states.

The separate sale of Anna Creek and The Peake means Ms Rinehart and her partners will own 77,000 sq km of the estate.

image captionThe Anna Creek farm has been taken out of the sale

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