Friday, February 10, 2017

Chinese conglomerate swoops in with $40m, Queensland rural deal


Chinese conglomerate swoops in $40m Queensland rural deal



There is strong Chinese appetite for Australian rural property
There is strong Chinese appetite for Australian rural property Tamara Voninski
by Matthew Cranston
One of China's top 500 companies Hailiang Group has contracted to buy more than $40 million worth of cattle and cropping land east of St George in southern Queensland.
The conglomerate is controlled by Feng Hailiang, China's 90th richest man according to Forbes, and has interests across mining, real estate, agriculture and education.
Image result for Feng Hailiang

[ Feng Hailiang (馮海良先生), aged 55, has been a Non-executive Director and Chairman of the Board of the Company since 12 May 2014. Mr. Feng is a senior economist in the PRC. Mr. Feng is also the chairman of the board of Hailiang Group. He was the president and chairman of Hailiang Group and was the chairman of 浙江海亮股份有限公司 (literally translated as Zhe Jiang Hai Liang Co., Ltd.)]
The Group, which outlayed $34 million for a residential development site at Campsie in south-west Sydney in January, has agreed in principle to purchase about 50,000 hectares spread across two stations.
The 34,000-hectare Hollymount Station owned by Traikant – a holding company of the Duddy family – is to be purchased for about $31.5 million while the neighbouring station Mount Driven owned by Michael Gibbs is to be sold for more than $10 million.
The deals were struck around Christmas and are to settle in March. Ray White Rural's Bruce Gunning had been marketing Hollymount Station but could not be contacted. Neither of the buying or selling parties were available for comment.  


Hailiang Group employs about 12,000 employees and has total assets of 58.74 billion yuan ($12.1 billion). The group is targeting an operating income of more than 120 billion yuan and total assets of 70 billion yuan by the end of this year.
Forbes records Mr Hailiang's wealth at about $US1.7 billion ($2.14 billion).
The Hailiang Organic Farming Company is the group's agricultural arm. It was established in 2011 providing "a comprehensive whole industry chain of organic agriculture".
Hailiang Organic has set up plants and breeding facilities in 16 provinces including inner Mongolia and Guangdong and has distribution centres in Beijing and Shanghai. 
"By the end of 2020, Hailiang is supposed to be a world-leading brand," Hailiang's website said.
If the new purchases of the southern Queensland rural properties go through they will build on a steadily growing collection of Chinese investments in the area.
The two properties are less than 200 kilometres from Australia's largest irrigated cotton farm Cubbie Station, which was purchased in 2013 by the Chinese and Japanese-backed consortium Shandong Ruyi for $232 million.
Last year another Chinese group, Orient Agriculture, emerged as the buyer of south-west Queensland cropping property Undabri, about 120 kilometres away from the two properties, for $30 million.
The transactions very clearly reflect China's growing appetite for farmland and its ability to feed its massive population into the future.
However, the transactions also come at a time when the federal government is enforcing greater transparency on foreign ownership of farmland.
Last week, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and agricultural minister Barnaby Joyce announced it would tighten the rules on foreign purchases of agricultural land by lowering the screening threshold which foreign investors must obtain approval for purchases to $15 million. They also said a foreign ownership register of agricultural land would be created with the help of the Australian Tax Office.
Under current law, foreign groups seeking to acquire an agribusiness or agricultural land require Foreign Investment Review Board approval if the value of the assets being acquired exceeds $252 million.
There have been polarising views on this issue.