BUSINESSDESK: New Plymouth-owned Tasman Farms, Van Diemen's Land Co's parent, wants to raise up to $A180 million, with at least $A100 million in fresh equity, and has attracted a potential suitor from China but won't see Fonterra at the negotiating table.
The New Zealand dairy exporter, which reports its annual results today, will not invest in the Tasmanian farm upgrade, which has reportedly attracted interest from China Investment Corp, the $US200 billion sovereign wealth fund.
"Fonterra has a very strong relationship with VDL as their processing partner but our investment interests in Tasmania are focused on our factories at Spreyton and Wynyard, rather than farms," a Fonterra spokeswoman says. "We are supportive of any suppliers who are looking to grow and develop their operations."
The investment in VDL's Woolnorth farm will be timely for the state after forestry group Gunns went into voluntary administration, putting some 600 jobs at risk. Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings this week returned from a trade mission that included pitching agriculture and mining investment opportunities to China Investment Corp.
Tasman Farms wants to grow its milk production capability to as much as 15 million to 18 million kilograms of milk solids from 5.76 million kg in the 2012 season. It is already Australia's biggest dairy farmer and Fonterra's largest supplier on the other side of the Tasman.
This week VDL chief executive Michael Guerin said he was confident the expansion plans would raise enough funds with "a number of investors interested in the project".
Two China Investment Corp executives spent two days visiting Van Diemen's Woolnorth farm, Australia's biggest dairy farm, having already inspected the rival Little Lion dairy operation in Tasmania, Fairfax Media reported.
The sovereign wealth fund has approached the Foreign Investment Review Board for preliminary consultations, reports said.
Foreign ownership of land, particularly involving Chinese buyers, has been a thorny issue on both sides of the Tasman.
Shanghai Pengxin's purchase of the Crafar family farms in New Zealand is set to face a challenge in the Supreme Court, while Australian approval for Shandong Ruyi to buy Queensland cotton farm Cubbie Station attracted heavy criticism from Opposition politicians.
This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags
- Can a New Zealand ISP sell your web browsing history? The surprising answer
- Residential property development meets another major stumbling block
- MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, led by Xero, Infratil while NPT falls
- While you were sleeping: Wall St, greenback gain
- Chinese hoteliers on Goff's new rates rise: 'If only we'd known ...'
Most listened to
- Should ISPs be free to sell their customers' web browsing history? Eric Crampton scraps it out with Grant Walker
- Xero's Rod Drury on reaching break-even and a Nasdaq listing
- Peter Dunne says it's not over yet for RMA reforms
- Nevil Gibson faults ethical investing, looks into seasteading and checks out Mansfield in Menton
- Michael Stiassny talks of “personal abhorrence” at bid behaviour