Allan Crafar, the former head of New Zealand's biggest dairy operation, has filed a last minute injunction to try and stop the sale of his farms, now in receivership.
Court documents show representatives of Plateau Farms Limited (in receivership) filed an urgent interim injunction in the Auckland High Court late yesterday against receivers KordaMentha, and creditors PGG Wrightson Finance, Rabobank and Westpac.
KordaMentha says it will defend any injunction action brought by the Crafar family.
The grounds for seeking the injunction are not known because the case was heard in chambers last night.
However it is understood Crafar wants more time to pay back his debt.
He told Radio New Zealand that the family wanted to stop the sale of the properties to give it time to finalise an arrangement with New Zealand backers to redeem their debt.
The application will be heard in the Auckland High Court tomorrow morning.
Crafar declined to comment about the application, as did his lawyer
who said he had not received instruction to comment on the case and it would not be appropriate to do so now that it was before the courts.
Brendon Gibson of KordaMentha said it was unfortunate the Crafar family had decided to seek an injunction, but that the receivers were confident the application had no merit.
The Crafar farms went into receivership last October owing more than $200 million to PGG Wrightson and the banks.
Tenders for the properties closed yesterday, and receivers said they have now had the chance to look over the bids, although a decision would be some time away. State owned farmer Landcorp put in a joint bid with Wairakei Pastoral, while Chinese investors UBNZ was the other confirmed bidder.
Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly said while he did not know the grounds for the injunction application, his personal opinion was that it would be rejected tomorrow.
"Michael Stiassny is a very experienced liquidator, he has done a lot of receiverships," said Kelly. "And he's been particularly careful with this."
If Crafar was successful, then that would put a "real dampener" on Landcorp's bid, which required a "clear title" on settlement date, Kelly said.
PR representative for UBNZ's May Wang, Bill Ralston said the action did not involve or affect Natural Dairy and its plans.
"UBNZ/Natural Dairy have a signed conditional sale and purchase agreement for the farms in question. If the farms are for sale then Natural Dairy will purchase them, subject to Overseas Investment Office approval."
The company was confident its bid would succeed, Ralston said.