Friday 27th January 2012 1 Comment
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The sale of 16 farms to China’s Shanghai Pengxin is has been approved by Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson.
The ministers concurred with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) recommendation on the issue.
“The sale of New Zealand farm land is a sensitive topic that New Zealanders feel very passionate about. Consent will only be granted for investments that will benefit New Zealand and meet the requirements of New Zealand investment laws,” Annelies McClure, manager of OIO said.
A rival consortium led by Kiwi businessman Michael Fay had indicated it will challenge the sale via a judicial review.
It was in court yesterday seeking directions but no orders were given.
The parties are to hold a telephone conference at noon on Monday.
The sale involves 8,000 hectares of North Island farmland. Its sale to a foreigner has been controversial.
The Fay-led consortium, including Tiroa E and Te Hape B Trusts, Tauhara Hapu Trusts, Aitchison Farms, WD Holmes 2000 Trust, Donovan Group and Brent Cook launched a rival $171.5 million offer in September, believed to be some $30 million below Pengxin’s bid.
The Fay group had its bid for the farms declined by receiver KordaMentha, who called the price “unacceptable”.
Prime Minister John Key has said that he hasn’t seen anything to make him question the OIO’s processes.
Key has talked down the extent of foreign ownership of local farmland, saying he understood it to be less than 1 percent.
“The wholesale sale of land in New Zealand is not in New Zealand’s best interests, and that was why we sought to toughen up the overseas investment act,” he said. “At around about 1 percent, I don’t think we have a substantial issue.”
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