Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Spurned Crafar bid not the end for us, says Fay

Sir Michael Fay. Photo / Joel Ford
Sir Michael Fay. Photo / Joel Ford

Sir Michael Fay says his group's bid for the Crafar farms remains on the table despite being rejected by the receivers yesterday.

The group's $171.5 million offer is almost $30 million short of that from China's Pengxin International Group.

KordaMentha receiver Brendon Gibson said the accepted Pengxin offer was by far the best offer and remained so.

Regarding Fay's offer, he said: "It was conditional and a collaboration of several companies and was a price that we think was unacceptable, so no go on any of those fronts.

"The price is a very key factor. That's our job to get the very best price and we've got an offer that we were happy with and remain happy."

KordaMentha has managed the 16 North Island farms, formerly owned by the Crafar family, since they went into receivership in 2009 owing more than $200 million to Westpac, Rabobank and PGG Wrightson Finance.

Pengxin's offer is conditional on getting Overseas Investment Office consent.

"We're certainly very hopeful of it and have gone through an extensive process to where we've got to today and we want to see the conclusion of that," said Gibson.

The OIO received the application in April. A spokesman said yesterday the office had sought some additional information from Pengxin and there was no timeframe for a decision.

Fay said the receivers' decision was disappointing but not surprising.

"We were always the back-up position but the current decision by the receivers doesn't mean we are going away," he said.

The group comprised about 40 per cent of iwi farming interests and all of the farmers in the consortium already had dairy interests in the central North Island.

Fay said the group remained ready to jump in if the office rejected the current Chinese contract.

"I can understand why the receivers would not want to send the wrong signal to the current prospective buyers by signing a back-up offer but that decision makes no difference to us at all in the long-term," he said.

Negotiator for the offer group Steve Bignell said the receiver was taking the gamble of a better price subject to the OIO by saying yes to the Chinese contract.

"Our offer is at a price that we firmly believe makes sense in that we are paying the right price for the long-term farming future of these properties. Over a certain price level, these farms don't work."

Fay's group said the latest offer valued the Crafar properties at an average of $28,500 a hectare.

- NZ Herald

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