A CHINESE real estate, infrastructure and agriculture conglomerate could become the biggest owner of farmland in Australia.

Shanghai’s PengXin Group is bidding for two huge companies that are being sold separately – Consolidated Pastoral Company and S. Kidman & Co.

Buying both could cost more than $1 billion, sources said, and allow PengXin to create a cattle powerhouse that would own more than 1 per cent of the Australian continent.

PengXin would use Consolidated Pastoral Company’s cattle stations in Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia’s north to supply beef to Asia, sources said. South Australia’s Kidman & Co would provide meat for the Australian market.

The geographic diversity could help during droughts.

PengXin became the third-biggest dairy group in New Zealand through buying up smaller companies in a similar plan to its plan for CPC and Kidman.

The deal could emerge as a test of Australia’s openness to foreign investment and influence diplomatic relations with Beijing.

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