23 Apr 2010

Crafars determined to stay on farms, rescue business

10:18 pm on 23 April 2010

A central North Island farmer at the centre of a failed dairy farming operation says his family should be allowed to stay on the farms as he believes they can rescue the business.

The Crafar farming group was put into receivership in October last year, owing more than $200 million.

The 16 farms in the central and lower North Island are now being put on the market and legal action is under way to evict the family.

But Allan Crafar says he and his family are still directors of the properties and will not be moving while they remain unsold.

Mr Crafar says the family is working to try and raise the money to get the business back on track.

"There's nothing to say we don't jack up the money and pay it off. We've had it lent to us before.

"Obviously people believe that we were capable and good enough businessmen to lend it to us in the first place, so why wouldn't someone else do it who had some foresight and some faith in hard-working people.

"We could change it back, if given a chance."

Meanwhile, the real estate company handling the sale of the farms is denying reports that a deal has been finalised with Chinese buyers.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Natural Dairy New Zealand Holdings said it has agreed to buy the Crafar farms.

But Richard Graham, of Bayleys Real Estate, says nothing has been decided by the receivers

"KordaMentha has been negotiating with that party, but at this stage there is no agreement. The properties are available for purchase by any interested party, including these people."

Mr Graham says the farms will be advertised in early May and tenders will close on 23 June.