7 Mar 2012

OIO review of Crafar farm sales delayed

2:24 pm on 7 March 2012

The Overseas Investment Office's hope that it would be able to reassess a decision on the Crafar farms sale in a few days, has turned out to be too optimistic.

The High Court ruled on 15 February that the Government will have to reconsider its approval of the sale of the 16 farms to the Chinese company, Shanghai Pengxin, using a different economic benefit test.

That judicial review was called for by a New Zealand farmer and iwi group which wants its own bid for the farms accepted.

The group has also gone to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the Chinese buyers do not have the qualifications required to run dairy farms.

The OIO says that appeal has contributed to the delay of its reassessment and recommendation to the Government on whether the sale should proceed.

A spokesperson for the office says the High Court ruling has also affected its assessment of other applications by foreigners for the purchase of New Zealand farmland.

It has asked all applicants to submit information on the impact the decision may have on their cases.

The office says it cannot predict how long it will take to reassess the Crafar farm recommendation.