Chinese investors ramped up their investment in Australian agriculture last year, spending $1.2bn on farms and agribusinesses.

The Chinese tripled their agricultural investment Down Under in 2016, a new report from KMPG and the University of Sydney has revealed.

Demystifying Chinese Investment in Australia showed that the Chinese $1.2bn agribusiness spend was divided across 12 deals concentrated in the dairy, meat, seafood and wine sectors.

One of the biggest sales involving Chinese investors was that of S Kidman and Co. The 117-year-old family-owned cattle empire was the biggest privately-owned tract of land in Australia.

Extending to more than 100,000 square kilometres across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia, the business runs up to 185,000 cattle.

Early attempts by the Chinese to buy S Kidman and Co were rejected by the Australian Foreign Investment and Review Board on the grounds of “national interest” and “national security”. A consortium of outback cattle-producing families also attempted to buy the Kidman business and were out-bid.

The $365m deal got the green light in December 2016 when the Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co joined forces with the Australian-owned Hancock Beef and a portion of the property, Anna Creek, was sold to a local family.

Australia’s biggest dairy farm, Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL), was also sold to Moon Lake Investments, owned by Chinese investor Lu Xianfeng.

The Tasmanian dairy, which owns 42,000ac across 25 farms, milks over 17,800 cows. The new owner intends to fly 10m litres of milk from Tasmania for sale in China.

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