Pastoral icon S. Kidman & Co has apparently sold more grazing country in Central Australia as part of its recent divestment of pastoral assets.
Beef Central understands that an off-market sale agreement has been finalised for Kidman’s Macumba and Innamincka stations in South Australia’s northeast, with Central Australian pastoral identity Viv Oldfield the new owner. Earlier this year, Mr Oldfield paid around $70 million for Kidman’s Ruby Plains Station aggregation in the Kimberley.
In total, the Macumba and Innamincka stations total almost 25,000sq km of low rainfall, mostly desert country, with some channels, running around 22,000 cattle in good seasons.
When approached by Beef Central, Elders – which was tasked with marketing the group of properties offered earlier this year – said it could make no comment on the position of Macumba and Innamincka stations, nor the future of other assets held by the Kidman or Hancock groups. A formal Kidman/Hancock announcement about the sale of properties is in the works, Beef Central was told.
In property circles, ‘no comment’ like this normally means there is strong foundation to the claims.
- 13,550sq km Innaminka, located on Cooper Creek in the Channel Country, is South Australia’s second largest cattle station. It includes excellent floodplain country and good water supply, surrounding the Coongie Lakes National Park. The property runs up to 13,000 Santa and Brahman cross cattle.
- Macumba Station, further west, spans 11,000sq km. The Macumba River flows through the property, providing seasonal flooding. It is primarily used for breeding, typically running up to 9000 Santa Gertrudis x Shorthorn cattle.
A source well connected with central Australian pastoral operations said the value of Macumba and Innamincka was somewhat diluted following the earlier sales of nearby Anna Creek and The Peak.
The sales hold a special historical significance, bringing to an end 122 years of ownership of pastoral land in South Australia for the iconic company, founded by Sidney Kidman in 1899.
Apart from its head office in Adelaide, Kidman’s only remaining beef industry asset in the state is the Tungali feedlot located in the state’s southeast. Its future must be clouded by the recent sequence of grazing property asset sales, sources close to recent transactions told Beef Central.
In March, Gina Rinehart’s Kidman & Co and Hancock Agriculture confirmed intentions to sell a portfolio of six properties in the NT and northern region of WA from both groups, because of “the difficulty of managing so many rural land holdings.” Macumba and Innamincka stations were not included in that original list.
“This sale is a refinement of Hancock/Kidman’s overall portfolio following a period of value creation through further investment and strong management,” Elders real estate general manager Tom Russo said in a statement at the time.
Properties tagged for sale as far back as November included:
- Extensive Victoria River District (NT) cattle stations Riveren and Inverway, purchased in 2016 from Indonesian owner, Japfa Santori. The properties are located southwest of Katherine covering 550,000ha, with a herd of 40,000 cattle.
- 147,000ha Aroona Station, near Katherine, bought in 2017 for $24 million including 15,000 head of Brahman cattle.
- 171,000ha Willeroo Station, adjoining Aroona 120km west of Katherine, which Hancock purchased the same year from Indonesian owners Agri International for $33.05 million including 21,000 branded Brahman cattle and full working plant.
- Another is 4800sq km Ruby Plains in the Kimberley region in Western Australia, which runs about 24,000 head of mainly Brahman cattle with an infusion of Charbray, Coolibah Composite and Wagyu.
- The 20,000-head Phoenix Park live export depot and holding facility near Katherine, which was purchased by Hancock Prospecting in 2016 from Steve and Cindy Bakalian.
Since then, two of the holdings have been confirmed as sold:
- Alice Springs businessman Viv Oldfield paid around $70 million for Kidman’s Ruby Plains Station aggregation in the Kimberley. The 480,000ha calf factory and 316,000ha outstation, Sturt Creek, were offered with about 25,000 head of Brahman cattle.
- The 203,142ha Nerrima Station, fronting the Fitzroy River in the West Kimberley, sold to Johnathan Emanuel for around $30 million, including more than 15,000 head of cattle. The Emanuel family, which founded and later sold the WA livestock exporter, Emanuel Exports, is not new to the Kimberley region, having owned Gogo and Noonkanbah in the 1990s.
- Recent media reports have suggested another of Gina Rinehart’s northern Australian holdings, 1700sq km Willeroo, west of Katherine has sold to the Brett family from Waterloo station. Beef Central was told by sources close to the deal that discussions had taken place, but no contract had yet been exchanged. Stand by for more details in Hancock Agriculture’s upcoming statement.
Based on the location and purpose of the Kidman/Hancock properties earmarked for sale in March, some onlookers interpreted the move as a decision to wind-back the companies’ exposure to the northern live export trade, and focus more heavily on Australian-slaughtered beef production and premium Wagyu operations.
Principal Gina Rinehart, who owns the Hancock portfolio outright and is the major shareholder in S. Kidman & Co, has demonstrated a heightened sense of responsibility over animal welfare issues since starting her pastoral investment charge seven or eight years ago, instituting a raft of measures on company properties to optimise welfare outcomes.
- Beef Central will publish the Kidman/Hancock property sale statement when it is released.