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China firm targets US$720m of Australian farmland: AFR

In-calf Friesian heifers are herded into a grazing pasture irrigated with water from the Murray-Darling Basin at McInnes dairy farms, near Echuca, a town in the north of Victoria state, Australia, on Fri, Nov 5, 2010.

[MELBOURNE] China's PengXin Group is bidding for two huge Australian cattle properties which together could cost more than A$1 billion (S$1 billion) and would make the conglomerate the biggest owner of farmland in the country, a newspaper reported on Friday.

Shanghai-based PengXin is separately bidding for Consolidated Pastoral Company and S.Kidman & Co, Australia's biggest landowner, the Australian Financial Review said, citing unnamed sources.

PengXin would use Consolidated Pastoral Co's cattle stations in northern and western Australia to supply beef to Asia, while it would use South Australia's Kidman & Co to supply meat to the Australian market, the newspaper said.

If its bids are successful, it would acquire a total 555,000 head of cattle, nearly as much as Australia's biggest beef producer Australian Agricultural Company owns, while its land holdings would be much larger than AACo's.

PengXin became New Zealand's third largest dairy player through a similar acquisition strategy it began three years ago, the paper said.