17 Jun 2013

Solid Energy looking to sell Southland land

4:29 pm on 17 June 2013

Solid Energy may be preparing to sell a block of land in Southland as a way to reduce debt.

The 3500 hectares of land was brought for $85 million in 2005 when the State coal company planned to mine lignite deposits there. It now has a government valuation of almost $150 million.

Solid Energy owes more than $389 million.

Between 70% to 80% of the land is freehold.

Former Federated Farmers Southland president Hugh Gardyne said the farms should be offered to New Zealanders separately and not to an overseas investor.

But real estate agents in Southland say many of those currently managing the farms can't afford to buy and Solid Energy will choose the easy option of selling the land in one hit.

Agri-Fax senior dairy analyst at Susan Kilsby said the land is unlikely to remain in New Zealand hands if if Solid Energy decides to sell it as one block.