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New Crafar farms decision due in April

Tuesday 03 Apr 2012 4:31p.m.

New Crafar farms decision due in April

A new decision on whether the Crafar dairy farms can be sold to a Chinese company is expected before the end of the month.

Government ministers approved the sale of the 16 North Island farms to Milk New Zealand Holdings, a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin, in January, but a High Court judge ordered them to reconsider their decision after a rival consortium sought a judicial review.

Justice Forrest Miller ruled that the ministers "materially overstated" the economic benefit of the transaction to the New Zealand economy and they must reconsider Milk New Zealand's application.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) made new recommendations to Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman last week.

Mr Williamson told media on Tuesday that the recommendations are "very detailed, very long, massive volumes".

"We're working our way through it. We will be seeking some more advice on certain aspects of it. I wouldn't like to give you a timeframe - we'll be ready when we're finished."

Asked whether that meant days or weeks, Mr Williamson said: "I would expect to do it this month, during the course of April."

If the deal - reportedly worth $210 million - is again approved, it could be subject to further court action from the Crafar Farms Purchase Group, led by businessman Sir Michael Fay, which has offered $171.5m for the farms.


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