Chinese investors who have applied to buy the Crafar family's dairy farmers from receivers say they think the purchase will be allowed by regulators at the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).
Natural Dairy NZ Holdings Ltd has applied to buy the 80% it does not already own in UBNZ Assets Holdings Ltd as part of the planned purchase of 16 North Island farms owned by the Crafars and put into receivership 12 months ago, when debts topped $200 million.
The 8615ha of dairy farms, mostly in the North Island, run about 25,000 dairy cattle.
Natural Dairy spokesman Bill Ralston said the company "has every confidence that its purchase of the Crafar farms will be allowed to proceed."
Its strong business case and "considerable benefits" from increased export receipts, tax revenues and jobs meant Natural Dairy should be allowed to complete its purchase, he said in an email.
Asked whether concerns about hypocrisy had been created by the fact that the OIO had just allowed one of the nation's biggest dairy farms, Big Sky Dairy, to be sold off to Harvard University -- without apparent protests over land sales -- Mr Ralston said: "Natural Dairy cannot understand the logic of opponents to its OIO application."
A Save the Farms group, led and funded by Auckland developer John McKearney, has mounted a newspaper advertising campaign to call for an end to farms being sold to foreign investors.
But Mr Ralson said that New Zealanders were more interested in overseas investment in farmland when it offered benefits in increased employment and tax-take.
The OIO said on September 17 it continued to assess Natural Dairy's "complex" application against the requirements of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 so that it can provide a recommendation to cabinet ministers, who will decide on whether or not to grant consent.
On September 27, Finance Minister Bill English announced he was giving a new directive to the OIO on sale of strategic New Zealand land offshore.