Australian-Chinese consortium wins bid for cattle empire

SYDNEY (AP) — The Australian government has approved the sale of the nation’s largest cattle empire to Australia’s richest woman and her Chinese business partner. The sale ends a drawn-out battle over foreign ownership of Australian farmland.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said Friday that the country’s largest private landholding, S. Kidman & Co. Ltd., will be acquired by Outback Beef. The Australia-China consortium is majority owned by billionaire Gina Rinehart, with a 33 percent stake held by Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co. Ltd.

The government said in May that the collection of cattle ranches covering more than 101,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles) would never be sold to foreign interests.

Foreign ownership of farmland is a sensitive issue in Australia.