Hancock Prospecting owner Gina Rinehart with company CEO Garry Korte (left) and the General Manager of Cattle Scott Richardson.
Hancock Prospecting owner Gina Rinehart with company CEO Garry Korte (left) and the General Manager of Cattle Scott Richardson. Contributed

KIDMAN SALE: Aussie graziers withdraw as Rinehart ups bid

UPDATE:  The group of Australian graziers has withdrawn its bid for the Kidman cattle empire.

It follows a rival bid from a joint venture company led by Gina Rinehart, which increased its offer to$386.5 million dollars.

In a statement, the B-B-H-O Consortium admitted the offer from Ms Rinehart was superior to their bid.

EARLIER: The war to win the Kidman cattle empire has reached fever pitch.

The Gina Rinehart led Australian Outback Beef company has increased its bid for the vast business and property holdings just days after being outdone by a group of graziers.

Outback Beef, which is a joint venture company 67% owned by Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting and 33% by Chinese company Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock, announced their increased bid in response to last weekend's $386 million offer from four of Australia's most successful graziers.

In a statement Outback Beef said it had upped its offer to acquire "100% of the shares in S. Kidman & Co Ltd to $386,500,000 and that that they had lodged documentation with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

On Sunday the BBHO consortium made up of cattle identities Tom Brinkworth, Sterling Buntine, Malcolm Harris and Alice Springs local Viv Oldfield, outbid Mrs Rinehart initial offer by $21 million to acquire 100% of the Kidman empire.

Outback Beef said "the lodging of documents follows the announcement made on 7 October 2016 in which AOB and Kidman announced the reaching of an agreement to facilitate the takeover offer".

"All other terms of the bid implementation agreement disclosed in that announcement remain in place. "(Today's) announcement is further evidence of the commitment of AOB to progress the process to the benefit of all Kidman shareholders."

The Outback Beef statement went on to say that "the Kidman directors have carefully considered the increased offer by AOB and have unanimously recommended that Kidman shareholders accept the Offer in the absence of a superior proposal".

On behalf of AOB, Chairman of the Hancock Group Mrs Gina Rinehart said the potential to acquire the Kidman business meant a great deal to her personally.

"As I have said earlier, I hold in high regard the legacy of the great Australian, Sir Sidney Kidman.

"Sir Sidney Kidman has special meaning to me given our families historical ties dating back more than a hundred years when my grandfather, James Nicholas, owned stations together with Sir Sidney Kidman in South Australia and they jointly owned a successful coach business in the East as well as in West Australia.

"And more to, they respected each other and were friends. I am from a station background, having grown up on Mulga Downs and Hamersley stations both in the outback- a childhood that develops resilience and that I loved, indeed I still have Mulga Downs station today."

Mrs. Rinehart added "I stand behind the bid and should FIRB or PRC approvals not be achieved, then Hancock will proceed with the acquisition on a 100% basis."

"I hope this provides shareholders with significant comfort and that when they consider the offer they can do so in the knowledge that there is no FIRB or PRC execution risk, and further that we have the money to invest to properly maintain the stations and their hard-working staff," Mrs. Rinehart said.

"I re-iterate AOB's commitment to invest and grow Kidman. AOB has the capacity and ability to access additional markets vital to any credible plan to grow Kidman in a sustainable way and without breaking up the core business.

"This will result in valuable jobs being retained in Adelaide and also importantly create more jobs in rural communities where they are so desperately needed."

Chairman of Kidman John Crosby said the Board welcomed the increased offer and acknowledged the strong credentials of the company led by Mrs. Rinehart.

"Under the Hancock JV offer the core Kidman business will remain intact and the Kidman staff and legacy will be looked after," Mr. Crosby said.

He said that more than 600 interested parties have held discussions with sale manager Ernst & Young since the iconic Kidman landholding went on sale almost 18 months ago.

The sale to Outback Beef will still require Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

S. Kidman & Co Ltd is one of Australia's largest beef producers, with an average herd carrying capacity of 185,000 cattle. The company has pastoral leases covering 101,000 square kilometres across South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland.

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