US purchase of Otago dairy farm approved

Updated at 1:47 pm on 5 October 2010

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of a large Otago dairy farming operation to Harvard University in the United States.

Big Sky Dairy Farms in the Maniototo district in northern Otago was set up as a dairy farm conversion in 2001, milking a herd of 3000 cows. It was placed in receivership in 2007, but has continued operating.

Harvard University is the world's wealthiest university and already has investments in New Zealand's primary sector, including another dairy farming operation in Otago.

It is also the majority investor in Kaingaroa Timberlands, which has about 170,000 hectares of cutting rights to plantation forests in the central North Island.

The Big Sky Dairy Farms receiver, Murray Frost of Deloittes in Dunedin, says the sale to Harvard University includes all livestock, three rotary sheds, several houses, and 1600 hectares of farm land.

He says the 22 staff working on the farm are expected to keep their jobs under the deal.

A sale price has not been made public.

The Harvard University investment will be overseen by an Auckland-based firm, Franklin Rural Management.

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