PM Key says govt would consider further tightening of foreign investment rules if it expected a wholesale buy-up of NZ farms

PM Key says govt would consider further tightening of foreign investment rules if it expected a wholesale buy-up of NZ farms

The government would consider further tightening of overseas investment rules if it suspected a wholesale foreign buy-up of New Zealand farms was brewing, but sales figures suggest this is not currently happening, Prime Minister John Key says.

Overseas investment rules are again in the spotlight with the possible sale of the 16 Crafar central North Island dairy farms to Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Pengxin. That sale is conditional now on Ministerial approval, assuming the Overseas Investment Office has approved the bid, with a decision expected most likely tomorrow.

The sale is being considered under new overseas investment rules, which the government changed in late 2010 following public outcry over a bid by another Chinese-backed company, Natural Dairy, for the Crafar Farms. The Natural dairy bid was denied on 'good character' grounds, and three of its executives are now facing fraud charges.

In September 2010, the government toughened up rules by giving responsible ministers - the Land Information Minister and an Associate Finance Minister - more power to decline Overseas Investment Office recommendations on foreign bids to purchase New Zealand assets.

A new “economic interests” factor allowed ministers to consider whether New Zealand’s economic interests were adequately safeguarded and promoted, and a new “mitigating” factor enabled ministers to consider whether an overseas investment provided opportunities for New Zealand oversight or involvement – for example, by appointing New Zealand directors or establishing a head office in this country.

All applications to the Overseas Investment Office since January 1, 2011, including the Shanghai Pengxin bid for the Crafar farms, were considered under the new rules.

Landcorp's role

If Shanghai Pengxin is successful in its bid, it will lease the farms to state owned enterprise Landcorp, meaning there would be New Zealand oversight and involvement in the process.

Pengxin issued a statement in April 2011 when it made the bid for the farms, saying it planned to increase milk production from the Crafar farms by 10% and wanted to capture a bigger share of the Chinese market with branded, dairy-based consumer products. It said it planned to spend more than NZ$200 million to buy and upgrade the farms. It then planned to invest a further NZ$100 million on marketing cheeses, ice creams and baby formula for the Chinese market.

The company would invest money to upgrade the farms, employing New Zealanders to do so, Pengxin said. It has said it is not looking at vertical integration - where it would own all facets of the supply chain - but would rather use New Zealand dairy plants to create and manufacture products such as baby food, cheeses and ice creams.

Pengxin established a subsidiary, Milk New Zealand Holdings, for its planned New Zealand dairy industry involvement. The sole director of that company was to be Jiang Zhaobai, the chairman of the Shanghai Pengxin Group.

Crafar sale not a wholesale buy-up

Prime Minister John Key told media in Auckland this afternoon that although the Pengxin bid was large in terms of the amount of farms being sold in one sale, it did not constitute a wholesale buy-up of New Zealand farmland.

"I don't think wholesale purchases of New Zealand farmland by foreigners, if that was to be a huge condition, is in New Zealand's best interest. The reason for that is I think this is our long-term resource," Key said.

"If you look at the foreign ownership of farms on the best information that we have, it's less than 1%. So if we saw a significant buy-up of New Zealand farms, then the government's response would likely be to further toughen the regulations or the Overseas Investment Act. But at this point we're not really seeing that," he said.

There had been 72 farms sold to foreigners under National's reign, while there had been 6.6 times more sales during the previous Labour government's nine years, Key said.

The Crafar farm sale was a significant transaction in terms of a one-off sale.

"But in terms of the overall 10,000 dairy farmers in New Zealand, and the huge amount of productive land, no it's not [a large transaction]," Key said.

The Crafar farms group was put into receivership in October 2009 owing about NZ$216 million to its lenders Westpac, Rabobank and PGG Wrightson Finance after revealed animal welfare issues at the farms.

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There had been 72 farms sold to foreigners under National's reign, while there had been 6.6 times more sales during the previous Labour government's nine years, Key said.
That's ok then - a slower land leak or was three years just not nine years to match labour's profligacy?
It makes you want to scream.    

With you there snippy. Surely a very serious look has to be taken at what is going on. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny, the likelihood of Landcorp becoming what amounts to tenant farmers. No, it's funny, when you recall John Key's words, that we do not want to become tenants in our own land. I will take every opportunity I can to remind him and everhyone of those words

The State is also becoming a large scale farmer often using its size to get better deals at the cost of the rest of us. Why should the State be involved in farming? 

hey Raegun i am a multi billionaire from Mozambique... I want to buy your home for 3million US$. Or if it's valued at more than that, then i'll pay 60% above valuation...
Will you accept my offer? Probably! So why shouldn't the rest of NZ be sold to the highest bidder? It starts with the small things... And it's safe to say it started awhile ago!

NZ is gone my friend. Too late, you've all sold out

It seems to me that the sale of the Crafar farms to the Chinese has been approved.

So who is going to compensate the farmer vendors for the value they will lose because of the sheeples xenophobia?
Where does the vendor go for justice and restitution.

" farmer vendors" mean future sales other than Crafarms...ain't gona happen..we're small beer globally, not worth the trouble...Crafarms for the Chinese is merely a seat at the table so to speak...representation in this corner of the globe

Well, nothing to get upset about and start law making all over the place then.


as long as the vendor makes a profit who gives a rat... Best part, NO CGT! I just love foreign investors! Woohoo!

as long as the vendor makes a profit who gives a rat... Best part, NO CGT! I just love foreign investors! Woohoo!

Look the problem here is not land selling to foreigners..the real problem is after decades of pisspoor govt and shoddy RBNZ control, we have far too little saving going on and the small amount of capital is bundled with a mountain of created credit to chase property.
You need to ignore Key's fluff and blather...all his answers and comments are aimed at sidestepping the real problem, which his govt has not made any real effort to fix.
NZ is now owned and controlled by the credit creating mortgage pushing banks and they tell Bollard what he will do. And the instructions have not changed. He has been told to allow covered delay regulations relating to bank capital source allow LVRs to rise back to lower the cost of overnight cash to pork bank profits....
Kiwi peasants have become serfs to the banks. The property bubbles are critical to bank profits and so the govt is busting a gut to make dam sure the bubble prices are looked after...that is why the OIO will be told to say "YES" and that is why the Minister will sign "OK" as fast as he can.
Saving will not increase to anywhere near the amount needed to allow young Kiwi to afford farm property without  the cancerous inclusion of bank credit. This is the utter failure left by successive useless govt.

hit the nail on the head Wally.

The "nail" doesn't give a shite AJ.

Because so many Kiwi's seem to think the country is better off borrowing, even if it is at quite low rates, rather than actually saving money as a country.
Key doesn't really anything to dissaude this general opinion., dispite what some people try to claim he's just as much a politician as any of them.

The chinese control nz now.
They have significant shareholdings in the 4 aussie banks.
Those banks control i believe 92%of nz money.

China always brings the Statist xenophobes out of their bat-caves.
Probably a good time to read about the five myths of China's power.