Silver Fern Farms sale to be completed ahead of schedule

There is little merit in "simply waiting" – Rob Hewett. 

The controversial deal which will see meat processor Silver Fern Farms sell a 50% controlling stake to China's Shanghai Maling for $267 million in cash is to completed before the end of the year.

The transaction, which was approved by farmer shareholders at two separate meetings, was due to proceed by January 4, 2017.

Silver Fern Farms says it will now complete the deal before mid-December. Silver Fern Farms chair Rob Hewett says there is little merit in "simply waiting".

"Both boards are keen to get on with the partnership and deliver on the benefits already identified. The final date for completion will be confirmed shortly," he says.

Silver Fern Farms is New Zealand's biggest meat company and political opposition to the sale was led by the New Zealand First Party. The sale was approved by the government in September, on the recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office.

The deal enables Silver Fern to repay its debt, removing a threat from its banking syndicate to withdraw support.

It also enables it to tap Shanghai Maling's supply chain and parent Bright Food's wholesale and retail networks to distribute into China.

The deal attracted opposition from some of the co-operative's shareholders who forced a second special meeting, although management said it wasn't binding.