OIO gets Pengxin bid details

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 14:24 23/12/2011

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The Overseas Investment Office won't say whether it will enable aspiring Crafar farms buyer Shangahi Pengxin to meet a January 31 deadline for the deal, imposed by Crafar receivers.

Receivers KordaMentha have announced the Chinese company has a "final" deadline of the end of next month to make its preferential offer for the 16 North Island dairy farms unconditional, or the deal will lapse.

The OIO, a Government agency, said it was aware of the deadline, and while it had now received information from Pengxin it had been waiting for, could not say when it would be ready to make a recommendation to Cabinet Ministers.

The receivership of the 8000 hectares of farmland is now dragging into its third year and Pengxin, which has made the application to purchase the farms in the name of Milk New Zealand Holding, has been waiting nearly 9 months for an answer from the OIO.

This time last Christmas, the Government announced it was rejecting a purchase application for the Crafar farms from another Chinese company, Natural Dairy, on the grounds it had failed the "good character test".

The receivers have rejected a $171.5 million bid from a group of Kiwi and iwi farmers headed by businessman Sir Michael Fay as being too cheap.

Last night Taranaki farmer Theresa Nicholas said a group of "low key" farmers she could give no details about, had approached the receivers with an offer for the Crafar farms which topped all other bids.

She said Pengxin's purchase deal was for $200m and her group's offer was conditional on Pengxin's application to the OIO being cancelled.

She was unable to give any other information about her group's interest, other than to say it was seeking overseas funds.

Pengxin's New Zealand spokesman Cedric Allan said the company was confident it could meet the deadline and buy the farms.

Bankers for Reporoa's Crafar family were owed $200 million when they called in the recievers in October 2009.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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