Sir Sidney Kidman
The Hancock joint venture (JV) bid with Shanghai CRED commits 100 percent that it would not break the Kidman properties or business in any substantial way. YouTube/RadioGraham 1938

The Australian Outback Beef (AOB) filed documents on Thursday with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) increasing its offer to buy the S. Kidman cattle empire to $386.5 million. It is $500,000 higher than the $386 million offer of the BBHO syndicate.

With the higher offer, AOB – a joint venture 67 percent held by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and 33 percent by Shanghai CRED – literally lived up to the claim of Hancock Group CEO Garry Korte who cited on Tuesday seven reasons why AOB’s then $365 million offer was better than BBHO’s $386 million offer.

Other than the addition of $21.5 million to its offer, AOB says the other terms of its previous bid are still the same. The JV says the higher bid is proof of AOB’s commitment to “progress the process to the benefit of all Kidman shareholders,” ABC reports.

Acquiring Kidman means a lot to Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, who points out she comes from a station background since she grew up on the Mulga Downs and Hamersley stations in the outback. At the same time, she reiterates the JV’s commitment to invest and grow Kidman further.

Until the hike in AOB’s new offer, South China Morning Post points out that sentiment was leaning toward BBHO because its offer was higher then, although Korte disputes that because its previous bid excluded Alice Springs which hosts a US military facility.

But favoring BBHO could be seen as Australia being too protectionist and inconsistent in relation to foreign investment, says Vivienne Bath, director of the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney. She explains that while Canberra insists it is open to foreign investments, the flood of Chinese money, especially in real estate, created a popular impression that Chinese companies were purchasing Australia.