Australia blocks $284 million ranch sale to Chinese

The Australian government has blocked a Chinese-led consortium from buying the nation's largest private land holding, a collection of Outback cattle ranches, for 371 million Australian dollars ($284 million).

Treasurer Scott Morrison said on Friday the sale of pioneering dynasty-owned S. Kidman & Co. Ltd. to Chinese-based Dakang Australia Holdings and Australian-listed company Australian Rural Capital was contrary to the national interest.

The refusal is only a preliminary decision and Dakang has until Tuesday to respond.

Kidman owns 10 cattle ranches, a bull breeding stud and a feed lot covering 101,411 square kilometers (39,155 square miles) in four states. That's an area bigger than South Korea and almost as big as the U.S. state of Virginia.