Jul 22, 2016

    Aussie tycoon bets on Asia's food demand


    AUSTRALIA'S richest woman Gina Rinehart has expanded her cattle business, buying two cattle properties in the country's north, as the billionaire seeks to profit from Asia's fast-growing food market.

    The cattle properties, located south-west of the town of Katherine in the Northern Territory, were bought from one of Indonesia's largest importers of cattle, Japfa, the Rinehart-controlled Hancock Prospecting said.

    The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    "I am very excited about the acquisition of these two cattle properties and to be investing in Australia, particularly in the Northern Territory," Ms Rinehart said in a statement issued by Hancock yesterday.

    "I am passionate about our agricultural industry and developing Northern Australia," she added.

    The combined purchase of 550,000ha and 40,000 head of cattle marks the latest agricultural acquisition from the mining mogul after Ms Rinehart bought a Western Australia cattle station last year.

    She is one of a handful of big mining players who have shown increasing appetite for Australian agriculture assets amid a transition of the country's economy - the so-called "mining to dining boom".

    Australia has exported record amounts of beef to China over the last three years while a deal to sell live cattle to the Asian market, signed last year, is expected to be lucrative.

    The increased Asian demand for Australian agricultural assets is politically sensitive.

    It has ignited fears over food security and led to stronger government restrictions.

    A China-led consortium seeking to buy Australia's largest agricultural land owner, S. Kidman & Co, will hold off on a fresh bid amid concerns it could be derailed by a new, more protectionist government, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.