Solid Energy looks for Biodiesel buyer

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 12:52 04/10/2012

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Solid Energy is negotiating with a buyer for the agribusiness division of its renewables company Biodiesel New Zealand.

A consortium led by South Canterbury onion and potato exporter Southern Packers was the preferred bidder, Solid Energy said.

The group includes Midlands Seeds, Biodiesel's agribusiness manager and an agricultural-economist contracted to Biodiesel.

If the bid is successful, they will continue running the oilseed rape growing, processing business as a going concern and intend to grow.

The agribusiness division includes the Rolleston seed drying and processing plant. Oilseed (canola) is processed into cooking oil at the factory, while a high-protein meal byproduct of the process is lucrative as animal feed.

About 60 growers around the country, although mostly in Canterbury, contract to Biodiesel, sowing several thousand hectares to supply the company with oilseed rape (canola) to produce biodiesel.

The other half of the business - the manufacture and sale of biofuel - is being sold separately.

Biofuel is made at the Addington factory the company bought in 2007. It has been upgraded since. That converts used cooking oil into about 2.5 million litres of biofuel annually.

The state-owned coalminer is still considering bids for that side of the business.

Solid Energy announced it would sell or close Biodiesel in August when it laid out a sweeping review of its business and hundreds of staff cuts which are still being finalised.

An ''extremely challenging'' global coal market was the driver.

If the sale of the agribusiness division goes smoothly, Solid Energy expects the consortium will take over next month.

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- Fairfax Media

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