An appeal against a decision to allow Chinese investors to buy a major portfolio of North Island dairy farms would, at most, see the applicants asked for more information, a court has heard.
Members of the New Zealand Crafar Farms Purchase Group, which opposes the sale of 16 farms to Shanghai Pengxin, took their case to the Court of Appeal in Wellington yesterday.
The group claims that the Crown did not properly apply tests in the Overseas Investment Act in approving the Chinese application, because it did not demonstrate its directors had the business acumen or experience required by law.
Yesterday's hearing is the latest step in Shanghai Pengxin's bid to buy 16 farms previously owned by companies headed by Alan Crafar, which were placed in receivership in 2009 with debt of more than $200 million.
Appearing for the Crown, David Goddard QC said even if the court accepted the appeal, it was as far as the court could go to direct that a request be made for more information from Shanghai Pengxin.
Alan Galbraith QC, representing the appellants, said the application demonstrated Shanghai Pengxin had substantial experience in urban business, but there was only passing reference to any experience in agriculture.
The court's decision was reserved.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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