Confusion over the ownership structure of the Chinese company looking to buy 10 Northland farms worth $42.7 million is the reason a decision on consent to buy the land has been delayed, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) says.
The company, Shanghai Pengxin, said yesterday the sale and purchase agreement of its subsidiary Dakang New Zealand Farm Group with Pinny Farms had "come to an end".
However, it appears the company has not pulled out completely, as in Thursday's written cancellation notification to the OIO, the company also requested that the OIO continue to assess its consent to purchase the 3300ha of farmland straddling Mangakahia Rd, south of Kaikohe.
Annelies McClure, manager of the OIO, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), said the OIO was now confused about who wanted to buy the Northland farms and this wass causing the hold-up.
Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming Co, which is 55 per cent owned by Shanghai Pengxin, lodged the application with the OIO in April for consent to buy the farms from Cara and Merv Pinny.
The application has been under assessment since it was accepted by the OIO on May 6.
Dakang boss Gary Romano claimed the company wanted to avoid the frustrations experienced by a wholly-owned subsidiary of parent company Shanghai Pengxin with Lochinver Station.
Government ministers Paula Bennett and Louise Upston vetoed the $88 million bid by Chinese billionaire Jiang Zhaobai's flagship firm Pure 100 Farm Ltd to buy the station.
Ms McClure said the OIO wanted to "fully understand Dakang NZ's ownership structure so it can be sure who will ultimately own the property if consent is granted.
"Assessing the application has been delayed twice by the need for more information from Dakang NZ. Complicating matters is Dakang NZ's relationship with Shanghai Pengxin and other companies that have applied for consent to buy properties in New Zealand " including Lochinver Station and the Queenstown Hilton," she said.
"The OIO is required to assess 90 per cent of these types of application within 70 working days.
"This doesn't include time where the OIO is awaiting further information from applicants."
The OIO was also asked by Dakang NZ Farm Group on Thursday to continue assessing its application to buy the 10 farms, which the OIO would do.
She said as consent was still being assessed, the OIO could not go into details about its requests for more information.
Neither Cara nor Merv Pinny wished to comment.