24 Dec 2010

Landcorp bid too low - Crafar receiver

11:15 am on 24 December 2010

The receiver for the Crafar farms has rejected suggestions Landcorp is back in the running to buy the properties.

Government ministers have declined applications from Hong-Kong-based Natural Dairy NZ Holdings to buy the 20 dairy farms, 16 of which have been in receivership since last year.

The bids had been fronted by May Wang, who was declared bankrupt this month.

State-owned enterprise Landcorp was one of about 50 bidders for the farms but its offer was rejected by receiver KordaMetha.

The Labour and Green parties say Landcorp may now be able to secure the farms at a cheaper price, to keep them in New Zealand hands.

Landcorp says it is still interested in the farms but is unlikely to substantially increase its original offer.

However, KordaMentha spokesperson Michael Stiassny says his job is to get the most money for the assets, not to help the country.

Mr Stiassny says Landcorp's bid was well short and the his company will be attempting a sale only with parties he describes as more serious in their approach.

He would not comment on whether other bids were being considered.

A Natural Dairy spokesperson says the company will make a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange later on Thursday revealing its next move.

Crafars see hope in decision

Crafar family spokesperson Allan Crafar says he is not surprised at the outcome and he is continuing to talk to potential overseas backers with the aim of raising the money to buy the farms out of receivership.

He thinks the family's chances have improved as a result of Wednesday's decision.

Mr Crafar is still resisting legal efforts by the receivers to evict him and his family from three houses on two of the farms at Reporoa in the central North Island.

Federated Farmers says it is good to finally have a decision on the Hong-Kong-based bid. President Don Nicolson says the sale process has been a long-drawn-out soap opera.

He says he would now like to see the receivers farms put the properties back on the market to be sold individually.