A crowdfunding campaign is confident of trumping a Chinese-led bid for Australia’s largest landholder, S. Kidman and Co, as it taps home-grown sentiment.
Property crowdfunding business DomaCom has received $70 million in pledges as it looks to match or beat a $371 million bid for S. Kidman & Co.
China’s Dakang Australia Holdings plans to acquire 80 per cent of Kidman while Australian Rural Capital (ARC) Ltd is looking to take the remaining 20 per cent stake, subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
DomaCom chief executive Arthur Naoumidis said almost 5000 investors had pledged between $2500 and $1 million as they looked to have a “social outcome” from their investments.
“They’re saying I do care about my super fund and my cash needs to give me a return, but I also care about the Australia I leave for my children and this is a transaction I want to be proud of,” Mr Naoumidis told AAP.
“Instead of sitting on the sidelines whingeing about foreigners, let’s put my money where my mouth is.”
Australians should consider whether Kidman would be run as a profitable commercial enterprise which paid taxes in Australia and did not need foreign investment approval, he said.
DomaCom is in talks to raise equity capital for a backdoor share market listing as it ramps up its crowdfunding campaign in the coming weeks.
“We believe we can beat the Chinese,” Mr Naoumidis said.
S. Kidman & Co runs almost 200,000 cattle over more than 100,000 square kilometres in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has ordered an independent review into the Dakang Australia-led bid and signed an interim order preventing the sale from going ahead for 90 days while he considers national interest implications.
A previous foreign bid to buy Kidman was blocked in November because of national interests.
Food and agribusiness corporate finance adviser David Hassum said Australian investors had been reluctant to invest in agriculture and added that he was tired of the recent focus on Chinese investors.
“We need foreign investment if we’re going to grow the sector and it’s not just the Chinese,” Mr Hassum said.
“There’s a lot of money coming in from North America and Europe still and it doesn’t seem to be getting the same amount of attention.”
Mr Hassum said Australia had depended on foreign investment in the agriculture sector for the past century.