Stakeholders in the proposed purchase of Mt Difficulty Wines by Foley Family Wines have declined to say whether a changed timeframe represents a delay, as an expected decision from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) about the sale is still awaited.

Foley chief executive Mark Turnbull confirmed the sale last November, signalling Foley was scheduled to take over Mt Difficulty by June this year.

But he said last week the intended sale was "still with the OIO", and could not say when Foley now hoped to take over Mt Difficulty.

The conditional sale, for about $55million, was for all of Mt Difficulty's assets and business, including wine brands Roaring Meg and Mt Difficulty, property interests, winemaking and cellar door facilities.


Purchase completion was conditional on gaining OIO approval and agreement from the shareholders of both Mt Difficulty and Foley Family Wines, and obtaining "key third-party consents", Mr Turnbull said in November.

When asked if the OIO not having made its decision yet represented a delay, Mr Turnbull said ''it is what it is''.

He said the OIO timeframe for making the Mt Difficulty decision seemed to be ''slower'' than expected. But he understood delays would have come from the change in government and a new ministerial directive for the OIO last year and ''respected'' the rules surrounding overseas investment.Foley Family Wines is owned by US businessman Bill Foley.

For its full year ended June 2017, Foley had total assets of $128.4 million and $10 million debt.

It sold 389,000 cases of wine, of which 38%, or 147,000 cases, was sold to the United States or Canada. Revenue rose 8.6% to $37.8 million during the period.

Mr Turnbull said Foley had gained agreement from shareholders of Mt Difficulty and Foley Family Wines for the sale, and was working through the third-party consents.

A statement from Land and Information New Zealand (Linz) deputy chief executive policy and overseas investment Lisa Barrett about the intended sale confirmed the OIO was still assessing the Foley application and no decision had been made.

When asked if there was a delay in processing the application, Ms Barrett said "This application is still under assessment by the Overseas Investment Office of Land Information New Zealand. Sensitive land applications must be assessed on a range of criteria and factors."