Italy's Barilla family, founders of the world's largest pasta company, have paid $25 million to buy a South Island dairy farm from Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink and his wife Jeanet.

New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office approved the purchase in a decision released yesterday, saying the buyers intend to make additional capital investment in the farm and develop significant indigenous biodiversity.

The price for the 413ha Rakaia property represents about $61,000/ha, a 33 per cent premium to the $46,000/ha median price for Canterbury dairy farms in the latest Real Estate Institute figures and 85 per cent above the $33,000 national median dairy price in October.

Barilla pasta, sold in distinctive blue cardboard boxes, was established in 1877 as a bread and pasta shop in Parma, Italy. It is now a global business with exports to more than 100 countries and almost 4 billion ($6.72 billion) of annual sales.


The company is headed by the fourth generation Barilla siblings, Guido, Luca, Paolo and Emanuela, who are named as the new owners of the New Zealand farm.

Foreign investment in New Zealand has sped up towards the year end, after applications granted by the Overseas Investment Office more than doubled in the latest month.

The office released details of 14 applications it handled in October which saw the transfer of 1786ha of land and the sale of assets valued at $89 million.

In September, the office handled only seven applications.

During October, NZX-listed retirement specialist Summerset Group Holdings got consent to buy 4ha of land at Racecourse Rd in Trentham from AgResearch for a big new retirement development. The deal went to the OIO because the land is classified as sensitive and the amount involved was kept secret.

Germany's DEKRA SE can buy leasehold land from MTA Group Investments (Motor Trade Association) in Gisborne, Porirua, Manukau and Botany for $55 million so it can introduce new technology and business skills in the vehicle testing business.

Buller Coal, 86 per cent Australian-owned, can buy 240ha of land at Waimangaroa from New Zealander Bruce Colligan. The coal business is a fully-owned subsidiary of NZX-listed Bathurst Resources (New Zealand) which is developing a big coal mine on the Denniston Plateau near Westport.

The development, the Buller Project, will see a coal handling facility built to receive coal mined from the Escarpment mine and the wider Buller Project, the OIO said.


Granting consent for the land deal, on which the price was suppressed, was to New Zealand's benefit, the OIO found in October.

New Zealand Longline got consent for two deals worth $8.1 million and $5 million, involving its purchase of fishing quotas from various holders.

Nippon Suisan Kaisha of Japan owns 25 per cent of the company, which is why the deal had to go before the OIO.

Fish involved in the transactions include red crab, giant spider crab, king crab, ling, blue shark and ray bream.

- Additional reporting BusinessDesk