China now looks at the Kidman empire after securing $1 billion of Australian farms
Chinese investors on buying spree
MATTHEW CRANSTON, LISA MURRAY AND ANGUS GRIGG
28 Sep, 2015 07:05 AM
It is our hope to bring Australia’s beef and mutton into the market of China.
HINESE investors have spent a quick-fire $120 million in the last two months buying rural properties across Australia and the signs are that the buying spree is only the beginning, with more than $1 billion worth of deals in play.
After a disappointing foray into Australia’s resources sector Chinese investors have taken a far more cautious approach to agriculture but are now finally starting to act, buying a $40 million farm every fortnight for the past two months.
Chinese groups were identified as far back as 2012 as the next major group of foreign investors for rural Australia, but aside from Shandong Ruyi buying Australia’s largest cotton irrigator Cubbie Station for $232 million it took three years to see a serious buying spree by the Chinese.
Dashang Group, Hailiang Group, Fucheng Group, Tianma Bearings Group and New Hope have outlaid about $260 million since March on rural holdings and production.
There are more Chinese investors waiting at the farm gate. They include one of China’s largest beef producers, Chongqing Hondo Agriculture Group, which is looking to buy up to $100 million worth of cattle stations in Australia.
They also include Pengxin’s listed subsidiary, Dakang Farming, along with Shanghai CRED, financial services group Zendai and textile, property and logistics conglomerate Shanshan Group who are all said to have shown interest in Australia’s largest land holder S. Kidman & Co or the Terra Firma backed Consolidated Pastoral.
Austrade’s trade commissioner in Chengdu, Jeff Turner, said in May that the line-up of Chinese interests was extensive, with as many as 300 Chinese cattle and cattle-related companies looking to invest in Australia.
However it is the comments of Chinese buyers that have fuelled the hopes of farm vendors, agents, bankers and lawyers all looking to do deals with the Chinese giants.
The chairman of New Hope Group, Liu Yonghao, who has pledged to invest $500 million in Australian agriculture over the next three years said China’s land was seriously overloaded, with too much fertiliser degrading the land. "Australia has a vast landmass, good grasslands and sunshine," he said. "It is our hope to bring Australia’s beef and mutton into the market of China. We should say these investments are beneficial to Australia and China."