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Govt will rule on bids for BIL's Sealords Stake

Government will rule on foreign bids for BIL's Sealords stake

Any foreign investor wanting to buy BIL's 50 percent stake in Te Ika Paewai Ltd will need the approval of Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.

The Ministers have asserted their right to be directly consulted in the sales process in order to protect the national interest.

"The previous government had delegated the consent authority to the Overseas Investment Commission in consultation with the Ministry of Fisheries. We have today decided to withdraw that delegation for this particular sale," the Ministers said.

"Applications will now have to be made directly to us."

The consent is required under section 56 [4] of the Fisheries Act 1996. This provides that an overseas person may hold an interest in fish quota only if that person is of good character and if the application is in New Zealand's interests.

The national interest test is whether the overseas entrant is likely to expand job opportunities and/or introduce new technologies and/or increase exports and/or improve efficiencies and/or stimulate investment and/or increase the processing of fish in New Zealand.

The Ministers pointed out that the fish quota held by Te Ika Paewai was not being offered for sale, only BIL's 50 percent shareholding. It should also be noted that the other 50 percent stakeholder in Te Ika Paewai, the Fisheries' Commission company Te Ohu Kai Moana, has first option to buy.

"Whether it elects to exercise that pre-emptive right is for it to decide," the Ministers said.

ends

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