Property investor and Kidman estate ownership aspirant, DomaCom, is welcoming Treasurer, Scott Morrison’s suggestion the sale of the pastoral estate to a Chinese-led syndicate is not in the national interest.
Since December the Melbourne-based managed investment trust group has been rustling up pledges from small scale investors to bid for the S. Kidman and Company business.
It’s also expects to open up its bid to mainstream superannuation investors and superannuation companies.
However, DomaCom has been frozen out of any meaningful discussions with Kidman and Co management to date
Melbourne-based DomaCom chief executive officer, Arthur Naoumidis, said it was “very pleasing” Canberra appeared to be heeding an outpouring of public sentiment on the proposed $370.7 million sale to Dakang Australia.
Dakang, which teamed up with 20 per cent stakeholder, Australian Rural Capital (ARC), to make its Kidman bid, has until 3 May to respond to the government’s concerns about the limited level of local involvement in its preferred deal.
Last year Mr Morrison rejected a bid by another related Chinese conglomerate, the Penxing Group, which has a majority stake in Shenzhen-based Dakang.
Mr Naoumidis said the Treasurer’s announcement could breathe fresh life into DomaCom plans for local investors.
DomaCom wants to split the 11 million hectares of Kidman land and the business, then float the beef enterprise on the stock market.
Investors buying units through DomaCom are being promised a potential return of about eight per cent in rental earnings from the listed Kidman business.
DomaCom’s unconventional and last minute crowdfunding style book-build, launched before Christmas, has attracted solid community support for its efforts to keep the 11 million hectare Kidman beef business in Australian hands.
About 5000 retail investors have pledged more $70 million.
“What the DomaCom campaign has clearly demonstrated is the genuine public interest in keeping the iconic Kidman pastoral stations in Australian ownership - ‘mum and dad’ investors want a stake in this country’s agricultural heritage,” Mr Naoumidis said.
“Opinion polls continually show ordinary Australians are deeply concerned about retaining our agricultural land, as well as the businesses that flow from them.
“Our crowdfunding proposal gave them the opportunity to give expression to that concern.”
Mr Naoumidis believed more retail investors would be encouraged to come forward to invest in Kidman following this week’s events.
“We also hope it’s a wake-up call for our large superannuation funds and asset managers to give a higher priority to agricultural investment to allow our prime pastoral and cropping land to remain in Australian hands.”
Kidman and Co’s 185,000 head cattle enterprise in remote central and northern Australia covers 16 pastoral properties including outstations and supporting properties in breeding, lotfeeding and cropping.
Kidman and Company is still considering its response to the government’s latest commentary on the sale.
It had earlier also acknowledged the federal government’s plans for an independent and external review of the sale and the tender process, to be sure all Australians had received every opportunity to be part of the sales process.
Company officials said the past year’s selection process had been rigorous and they were keen to fully comply and respond with whatever information was required, however managing director, Greg Campbell, said the Treasurer’s latest announcement was “deflating”.
Management was expected to recommence talks with Dakang Australia and ARC and set up meetings with Foreign Investment Review Board officials to work out if a differently-structured, foreign-lead bid would meet with Mr Morrison's approval.