SYDNEY, Dec 8 (Reuters) - No new bid has emerged for Australia’s largest private land holder S. Kidman & Co, likely paving the way for the country’s richest woman Gina Rinehart to take it over with her A$386.5 million ($289.41 million) offer, a source close to the transaction said.
Rinehart and her minority partner, Chinese developer Shanghai CRED October, are awaiting regulatory approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board for their offer for Kidman, which runs cattle and pastoral activities on tracts of land the size of South Korea.
A decision from regulators on Kidman, which has been a lightning rod for concerns about the sale of Australian agriculture and other key assets to foreign investors, is expected by December 23.
S.Kidman has not received any new expression of interest, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. And while the regulatory timeframe allows potential rival bidders to still make a counter offer, that was unlikely, all but guaranteeing Rinehart will complete the Kidman purchase, the source said.
“Gina, be it with a Chinese partner or alone, will certainly complete the purchase,” the source said.
Australia’s Treasurer Scott Morrison could reject the consortium’s offer, but Rinehart has said she would then complete the purchase alone, without Shanghai Cred, negating the need for further regulatory approval.
The sales process of Kidman has been going on for more than a year and saw Australia’s government twice veto deals from Chinese-led consortiums on national interest grounds.
Rinehart’s majority ownership proposal satisfies Australian lawmakers, who are keen for Kidman to stay locally owned.
Domestic ownership of agriculture is seen as crucial for Australia to cash in on global food demand and to keep tax revenues onshore.
Rinehart is Australia’s richest woman with a net worth of $11.7 billion, according to Forbes, based on an iron ore empire in Australia’s mineral-rich Pilbara, where she grew up.
$1 = 1.3355 Australian dollars Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman