Tasman farms in black

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014
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A Tasmanian farming operation once dubbed the worst deal in the New Plymouth District Council's history is set to plough $10 million into its investment funds.

The council's multimillion-dollar dairy farms net profit to the end of May is a $24 million turnaround on 2013.

Mayor Andrew Judd, who previously branded the investment as the council's worst, praised the latest figures yesterday.

However, he said he remained committed to diversifying the council's Perpetual Investment Fund (Pif) by selling off part of the controversial Tasman Farms.

And Taranaki Investment Management Ltd (Timl) were getting closer to selling a part of the $152m cash cow, he said.

Timl chief executive Mike Trousselot would not be drawn on who the potential investors were or what share of the farms were being sold.

"We have a shortlist of investors who we are actively discussing things with and we have confidentiality agreements with them."

A full biannual financial report for Timl would be released in a couple of months, but the farms had been performing better than ever, Trousselot said.

"It's been a record year."

There had been a 400,000 kilogram increase in production over the last year, as well as an increased milk payout.

Trousselot said the production was expected to increase another 400,000kg over the next 12 months and there would be a similar level of profit for the next financial year. With the increasing production the farms could become one of the biggest operations of its kind in the world, Trousselot said.

"I would challenge people to choose something that would have done better during the global financial crisis. It's been a solid investment for the council. It has doubled in production during our tenure and it has the capacity to double in scale again."

Judd was in Tasmania last week to visit the farms and returned home praising the investment as a success, despite previously criticising it.

Last year he called for an independent inquiry to find out the financial state of the farms, but yesterday he said they had been a sound investment for the council.

"There's no doubt that the farms have turned around in recent years," Judd said.

The farms, owned through the council's Pif and administered by Timl, have long been a contentious issue.

Judd has previously called for Timl to sell off at least part the farms so the $203.41m Pif could have a balanced portfolio of investments.

The potential sell down would not only ease the unbalance that had been placed on the Pif, but it would also allow extra capital to be invested in the farms, Judd said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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