3 Aug 2015

Silver Fern urged not to let in foreign investors

10:02 am on 3 August 2015

Opposition MPs are urging the country's largest meat co-operative, Silver Fern Farms, not to open the doors to overseas investors.

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Silver Fern Farms is owned by 16,000 New Zealand farmers. Photo: 123rf

Silver Fern Farms is seeking about $100 million in new funding to help reduce debt and has appointed the stock broking firm Goldman Sachs to help with that process.

The coo-operative, owned by 16,000 New Zealand sheep, cattle and deer farmers, has previously said it had had interest from potential investors both here, and overseas.

Labour Party primary industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor is urging Silver Fern Farms to keep the company in New Zealand farmers' hands.

"We've got a very large and growing level of foreign investment across agri-business, if New Zealand farmers and New Zealand economy wants to control its destiny then it has to own the assets."

Mr O'Connor said the country's meat companies needed to stop competing against each other for overseas markets and work together to increase profits.

New Zealand First agriculture spokesperson Richard Prosser said it was likely stockbroking firm Goldman Sachs, which has been brought on board to help raise equity, would suggest overseas investment.

"Obviously the acquisition that Goldman Sachs is going to recommend is an investor from overseas, probably from Brazil or the US, which will require OIO (Overseas Investment Office) approval and as we know the OIO is a bit of a toothless tiger, it tends to rubber stamp everything going through."

A Silver Fern Farms spokesperson was not able to give a timeline of when the process may be complete and refused to comment further.

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