State-owned company Landcorp says it is in talks with Shanghai Pengxin International Group to operate the Crafar farms if the company is allowed to buy them.
The Chinese company is waiting for purchase approval from New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office.
The receiver of the 16 North Island farms, KordaMentha, has given the company until the end of January to declare its purchase unconditional.
Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly says the company was approached by Shanghai Pengxin several months ago to manage the farms if the sale goes ahead.
Mr Kelly says reports that Landcorp would pay $18 million a year in rent to Shanghai Pengxin are false.
He says Landcorp could enter into a typical sharemilking arrangement with the group in which revenues and costs are shared 50-50.