13 Jul 2010

Crafar receivers reject Landcorp bid

11:35 pm on 13 July 2010

Receivers for the Crafar farms have rejected a bid by Landcorp for the properties and say they are continuing negotiations with the preferred tenderers.

The state-owned farming enterprise had made a joint bid with a farm investment group, Wairakei Pastoral, for all 16 of the North Island farms that are for sale.

Receivers Michael Stiassney and Brendon Gibson of KordaMentha, say they received more than 50 offers for all or some of the properties, but Landcorp is not among the preferred tenderers.

They say they will continue negotiations with other bidders over the next few days.

The receivers say a conditional sale and purchase agreement they have signed with a company linked to Hong Kong-based Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings still stands.

The Hong Kong-based company, now in receivership, says it was never concerned about a bid from Landcorp for the 16 farms.

Natural Dairy Holdings has best bid - Ralston

Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings says it has a signed sale and purchase agreement that still needs the approval of the Overseas Investment Office and the Government.

The company's spokesperson, Bill Ralston, says Natural Dairy has always been confident of having the best bid.

"It would take an offer that is much much better in some wider form for the creditors and receivers to turn around and suddenly reject the deal that they always had."

Mr Ralston says he expects the Overseas Investment Office to take about 10 weeks to make its decision.

Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly says the failure of its bid is disappointing, but it put in what it considered was a realistic offer, based on current farm values.

Govt should step in - Greens

Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman, says the rejection of Landcorp's bidputs the pressure back on the Government.

Dr Norman says it is now a matter of waiting to see where the tender process ends up.

"But clearly if it does end up with Natural Dairy, who seem to have pretty deep pockets, then it will be up to the Government to step in and turn it down, rather than let it fall into foreign ownership."

Dr Norman predicts more foreign ownership of the country's productive enterprises will increase the current account deficit.