Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Chinese investing heavily in rural Queensland property in bid for quality beef
CASHED-UP Chinese buyers have Australia’s cattle farms in their sights as they look to invest in new food sources for China’s rising population and its growing demand for quality beef.
A significant fortune is already flowing to Australia, a trend likely to increase with the signing of a free-trade agreement with China last month.
The Chinese are now the biggest foreign acquirers of Queensland property, investing $463 million in 2013-14.
Brian White, the 75-year-old doyen of the Ray White Group, said the Chinese were buying up property around the globe and had a specific interest in Australia.
“Lots of Chinese are approaching us to buy land for primary production,” he said.
The Ray White Group hosted a sell-out conference on the Gold Coast with 2000 of its agents from across Australia and Asia.
Ray White Rural chairman Paul White said it was an exciting time to be in the agricultural sector, adding there had been big sales of rural land up in the Gulf.
“The Chinese buyers are certainly out looking and buying. They want cattle farms and dairy,” Paul White said.
Australia China Business Council (Queensland division) chief executive Nussara Smith said Australia’s environment was attractive to Chinese buyers.
She said there was particularly strong interest by Chinese investors in cattle properties and abattoir facilities.
“The Chinese are attracted to the clean, green environment offered by Australia,” Ms Smith said.
“Previously there was a lot of interest in dairy but now that has shifted to cattle.”
Ms Smith said this reflected the rising demand for protein in China, where a growing middle class had more disposable income.
“A lot of the Australian produce would be destined for the top supermarkets in China,” she said.
Last month, Chinese company Ningbo Xianfeng New Material Company announced its interest in bidding for the $300 million-plus sale of outback pastoral empire S. Kidman & Co.
In 2012, Shandong Ruyi bought Queensland’s Cubbie Cotton Group for $277 million.
In 2013, another Chinese investor New Hope Investment Fund took over Kilcoy Pastoral abattoir for about $60 million.
China’s appetite for resources is also set to continue, according to former White House economic adviser Gene Sperling.
An adviser to US presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Mr Sperling said the long-term growth potential of China and India would underpin solid demand for Australian commodities.
Local miners should look through the current commodity price downturn and build business cases around China’s economy expanding by 7 per cent a year over the next 10 to 15 years, he said.
“I am not one who buys into the (concept there will be a) hard landing in China and I think infrastructure will be part of their economic future,” Mr Sperling said at the Diggers and Dealers mining conference yesterday in the remote West Australian mining capital of Kalgoorlie.
“I feel (more) optimistic about the medium-term demand from China than some of the people at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and others are suggesting.”