Pacific

Australia rules out sale of cattle empire to foreigners

FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, file photo, Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison is sworn in by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Cabinet at Government House in Canberra, Australia. Australia’s current government will never sell its largest cattle empire to foreigners, Morrison said on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 after blocking a takeover by a Chinese-led consortium. (Stefan Postles/Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, file photo, Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison is sworn in by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Cabinet at Government House in Canberra, Australia. Australia‚Äôs current government will never sell its largest cattle empire to foreigners, Morrison said on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 after blocking a takeover by a Chinese-led consortium. (Stefan Postles/Pool Photo via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Australia's treasurer says his government will never sell Australia's largest cattle empire to foreigners.

Chinese-based Dakang Australia Holdings on Tuesday withdrew its application to buy an 80 percent stake in Australia's largest private landholding, S. Kidman & Co. Ltd., after Treasurer Scott Morrison last week announced a preliminary view that the sale was contrary to the national interest.

Morrison said on Wednesday the main reason he opposed the 371 million Australian dollars ($284 million) sale was that the collection of cattle ranches was too big.

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 the size of the U.S. state of Virginia.