Natural Dairy of China Seeks Approval to Purchase New Zealand Crafar Farms

Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings Ltd., a Chinese company that wants to buy farms in New Zealand, has lodged an application with foreign investment regulators for approval to buy properties known as the Crafar farms.

The proposal sent to the Overseas Investment Office today will generate jobs and export opportunities, Natural Dairy said in an e-mailed statement. The 16 farms were owned by Crafar family interests before their company was placed in receivership in October.

In May, receivers Michael Stiassny and Brendon Gibson of KordaMentha agreed a sale with UBNZ Funds Management Ltd., a New Zealand company associated with Natural Dairy, conditional on consent from regulators. The receivers continued to seek other buyers and the deadline for bids is tomorrow.

Landcorp Farming Ltd., a New Zealand government-owned company that runs 105 local beef, sheep, deer and dairy farms, yesterday said it will make a bid, the New Zealand Herald reported, citing Chief Executive Officer Chris Kelly.

“Natural Dairy is confident it offers the best return to creditors of Crafar farms,” Vice Chairman Graham Chin said in the statement. No details of the bid were revealed.

Prime Minister John Key this week said sales of “very large tracts of land” to foreign owners may not be in the long- term interests of New Zealand, the Dominion Post reported. The final decision on recommendations from the regulator rests with Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at twithers@bloomberg.net.

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