The new all-Australian company, known as BBHO, has bid $385 million for the Kidman properties, offering $20 million more than Rinehart's Australian Outback Beef. It's the favourite bid according to analysts, due in part to the consortium being able to claim the national cattle stations will remain 100 per cent Australian owned.
The BBHO group is led by Sterling Buntine, who owns stations in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and in the Kimberley in Western Australia. Buntine told reporters on October 20 that he would expect the Kidman board to treat the new offer with due respect.
"We will be in Canberra to let the politicians know we are real and that it's happening," Buntine said.
"We will be seeking endorsement for our offer in the same way politicians have endorsed Gina's," he said.
Sterling Buntine is joined by Viv Oldfield, Tom Brinkworth and Malcolm Harris, all longstanding cattlemen who are independently wealthy. Alice Springs-based Viv Oldfield, known locally as a race horse trainer, also runs cattle on pastoral land in both the Northern Territory and South Australia and owns Tanami Transport a business that currently services S Kidman and Co as clients.
South Australian Tom Brinkworth is a pastoralist who owns more than 100 properties across the state and has himself been compared to Sir Sidney Kidman. Malcolm Harris is another longstanding cattleman who owns stations in NT and WA, most notably holding a freehold lease over Gogo Station in WA's north.
The deal will see the quartet own all the Kidman properties currently up for sale including Anna Creek station that has been omitted from the offer made by Hancock-Shanghai CRED as the property's vicinity to the RAAF Woomera Test Range is seen as a security risk.
The Ernst and Young managed bidding process allows for a $3.8 million break fee should the Hancock partnership or Kidman board decide not to go ahead with the sale. The BBHO bid is expected to pay the $3.8 million fee if it is successful.
Rabobank and National Australia Bank are reportedly vying to be able to provide the funding for the BBHO offer that does not require Foreign Investment Review Board approval.