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What Swedish fund paid for Hart farms

A Swedish pension fund paid about $60 million for eight Waikato dairy farms formerly owned by NBR Rich Lister Graeme Hart.

As reported in the National Business Review print edition, Southern Pastures Ltd Partnership bought the eight farms formerly owned by two companies controlled by Mr Hart's Rank Group.

The farms, spread over 3205ha, were part of an original package of 29 former Carter Holt Harvey farms on former forestry land put up for sale in 2010.

Forsta AP-fondens, which manages about a quarter of Sweden's national pension reserves, is the 99% holder of Southern Pastures.

It paid 316 million Swedish krona, or $60.16 million at today's exchange rate, for the farms, according to the fund's 2012 annual report.

The average price in the Waikato last year was reportedly $39,976 per hectare, meaning the former Hart farms were sold for a heavily-discounted $18,771 per hectare.

The New Zealand company in the partnership is Hamilton-based Southern Pastures Founders, whose directors are Prem Maan, Phillip Wight, Taaringaroa Nicholas and ex-All Black captain Graham Mourie.

Mr Mourie will manage the farms through sister company Southern Pastures Management.

Southern Pastures' plans for the farms include converting further forestery land into pasture and installing lined effluent ponds, as well as building feed pads, feed storage facilities and two new houses for workers.

More by David Williams

Comments and questions

If Hart was prepared to accept such a hugely discounted price what does that tell you about Hart's need for cash? That particular empire based on debt will not survive the next leg of the global downturn I am thinking.......

I would'nt get too worried about Harties financial position.....the sort of money he got for these farms he could have found feeling down the back of his couch.

He sold the Aussie Carter Holt carton business to Colorpak for next to nothing last year. The squeeze is definitely on...

Maybe Graeme understands the real value of such assets. Further, his sell price may be related to his cost. Also seems like he has picked a good time to bail out and leave the buyers with a dose of what agriculture is all about.

It may be that the Swedes have reported net investment and that is there is some debt loaded on top which would mean the price per hectare is actually higher. It isn't clear from the annual report what they have reported.

The deal came with the caveat that the Swedes undertook to produce some turnips. And we all know what Hart likes to go with his Sunday roast.

Damn Swedes - taking over the country.

Not sure the price was such a discount.

If you read the article, some of the land purchased still needs to be developed into farmland.

What I wonder is whether it would be this easy for a NZ company to purchase farmland in Sweden? I think we all know the answer to this one!

Mr Hart has received the best possible advice re the sale price from the legendary Ross Townshend - the man who has forgotten more about dairy than everyone at Fonterra knows. Next step for Mr Hart is taking thsoe funds and investing into South American and Amercian dairy operations.

John.Doe did you have something in mind for Mr Hart to invest in in South or North America?

Stunning Agri investmnets are not my bag baby ! Mr Hart will no doubt be taking advice from Ross or his former-fonterra-director brother.

How is it that this sale attracted no comment from the likes of Michael Fay and others who were so against sale to the Chinese? And the difference is ......?

The difference is I would rather see the country overrun by Swedish milkmaids anyday - bring it on.

Interesting that I haven't read one comment objecting to the purchase by a Swedish pension fund (except obliquely by Richard S). I also note the keen interest by several governments currently being visited by John Key in attracting overseas investors. But we have too many xenophobes who do not approve of NZ taking the same view.