Greater China Beats U.K. as Biggest Farmland Owner in Australia

(Bloomberg) -- Greater China now ranks as the top foreign owner of Australian agricultural land, overtaking the U.K., according to a government report.

The jump in Chinese-linked holdings comes via Hong Kong, with interests based there owning 1.3 million hectares as of June 30, an increase of more than fourfold in a year. China-only ownership was flat at 9.2 million hectares.

While the U.K. remains the largest single foreign holder, with 10.2 million hectares -- 2.6 percent of total farm land -- China and Hong Kong together have 10.4 million hectares. The other big increase came from Bahamas-linked groups, which now have interests in about 2.2 million hectares, compared with a very small amount a year earlier.

The government established the Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land in 2015 after calls for greater transparency. The definition of “foreign person” includes entities with foreign ownership of at least 20 percent.

Other key points:

  • Total foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land stands at 13.4 percent, compared with 13.6 percent a year earlier.
  • Total area of farmland with a level of foreign ownership rose to 52.6 million hectares as of June 30 from 50.5 million hectares a year before.
  • There’s been an increase in the use of foreign held land for crops and horticulture.
  • More than 92 percent of foreign-owned land is held within Australian incorporated entities.
  • Around 80 percent is held on a leasehold basis.
  • NOTE: Foreign Ownership of Australian Agricultural Land Steady at 12%

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.