22 May 2010

Crafar farms conditionally sold to Chinese interests

3:38 pm on 22 May 2010

Receivers for 16 farms owned by the Crafar family say they have agreed to sell them to a Chinese-backed investment group, conditional on approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

The farms are among 20 Crafar properties controlled by receiver KordaMentha since last year. Four were sold in February, but are being investigated by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

KordaMentha says a sale agreement has now been reached on the other farms, on condition the sale is approved by the OIO.

Negotiations had been underway for months with UBNZ Assets Holdings, which is represented by Auckland businesswoman May Wang and backed by Hong Kong-based investment company Natural Dairy.

The farms had also been put on the open market and extensively advertised both in New Zealand and overseas.

The receivers say they have left the door open for a better offer from the international tender process, which closes on 23 June.

Allan Crafar says he asked the receivers to let him know before they accepted any other offer because he is close to raising the money to repay his debts.

"They're just not providing information that I would need to arrange the money, they're not providing me with a figure," he says.

A receiver, Michael Stiassny, says they're happy to consider an offer from the Crafar family if they make one.

"If Mr Crafar has the money or will have the money in the future then he should come to the table. At this point in time he hasn't done that and we would expect, though we may be incorrect, that he hasn't got the funds," he says.