Gina’s Rising Empire
Rinehart's rise and rise
Andrew Marshall, Queensland Country Life (Australia)
6 Dec 2017
Australia’s fastest growing big scale beef producer has packed a lot into the past year and shows no sign of slowing in 2018.
Aside from the cattle market’s bullish prices, few topics generated as much industry speculation and regular discussion in 2017 as Gina Rinehart’s full-throttle expansion in the beef sector.
The mining baroness has taken her zeal for large scale, big budget resources projects and begun building a serious beef empire, extending from remote inland Australia to elite Wagyu markets and the emerging live cattle trade to China.
Last year Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting already boasted a substantial rural portfolio northern West Australia, Northern Territory, South East Queensland’s and Central West NSW.
That suddenly grew to a formidable spread after Hancock and Chinese partner Shanghai CRED concluded the $365 million purchase of the S. Kidman and Company estate and its 170,000 cattle.
As the new year dawned Hancock emerged as Australia’s third largest beef herd owner, thanks to its 66 per cent stake in Australian Outback Beef’s (AOB) iconic Kidman business (which Hancock also manages).
Hancock Agriculture’s footprint continued growing to encompass 22 stations, feedlots and property aggregations and 360,000 cattle.
The Kidman sale to Mrs Rinehart ended 20 months of various unsuccessful purchase attempts by foreign and local syndicate hopefuls.
The sell-off saga was peppered with Kidman family friction and contentious intervention by Canberra as the government blocked Chinese bidders for the 118-year-old pastoral estate.
Finally, AOB’s Australian-majority bid convinced Treasurer Scott Morrison to eventually approve the sale, minus about a quarter of the real estate.
The 2.36m hectare Anna Creek Station bordering Woomera defence base in northern South Australia, was annexed and sold in December for about $20m to the Coober Pedy-based Williams Cattle Company.
By January, after touring some Kidman holdings, Mrs Rinehart was buying again – the NT’s 147,510ha Aroona Station, bought from John and Kate McLoughlin, reportedly for about $24m.
At the time “Aroona” carryied up to 15,000 head, however Hancock’s management plans include improvements to lift carrying capacity and operating efficiency across its Kidman and Hancock Agriculture property portfolio.
Later “Aroona’s” management merged with the nearby 171,000ha Willeroo Station, also acquired in the Victoria River area.
“Willeroo” was bought in October, with 19,000 cattle, from Agri International, the Australian arm of big Indonesian lot feeding company, Great Giant Livestock...
more, including map of lot locations