18 Sep 2010

Crafar farm bidder denies imminent rejection

4:01 pm on 18 September 2010

The Chinese-listed company trying to buy a group of Crafar family farms in New Zealand says reports that it is about to be turned down are wrong.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is strongly denying a report that it is close to a decision to reject or severely restrict the bid to buy the 16 North Island farms in receivership.

For the past two months the office has been considering an application from the Hong Kong-listed company Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings.

A spokesperson for Natural Dairy, Bill Ralston, says the newspaper story was wrong and he is pleased the OIO has issued a swift confirmation.

Mr Ralston says he does not believe suggestions that another bidder for the farms, Landcorp, is back in the running to buy them.

'Complex' application still being asssessed

Earlier on Friday, the OIO said it had not rejected Natural Dairy's application, nor suggested or imposed significant constraints on it or the company.

OIO manager Annelies McClure says the "complex" application is still being assessed. No decisions have been made, she says, nor has a report been provided to the two ministers who will make the final decision.

Ms McClure says she cannot say when the decision will be made. The office has written to Natural Dairy seeking further information, and is yet to receive a response.