Tuesday 13 September 2016 10:01 AM
Shanghai Maling bid to buy Silver Fern Farms stake under consideration by Upston, Bennett
By Tina Morrison
Sept. 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office has sent its recommendation on a proposal for China's Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a half stake in Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand's largest meat processor, to the relevant government ministers for a decision.
Land Information Minister Louise Upston and Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett received the documentation from the Overseas Investment Office last week, and are now considering the application, spokesman Harley Thorpe said. The Ministers are aware of the Sept. 30 deadline Shanghai Maling and Silver Fern Farms had set for the deal and have that in mind, he said.
Overseas Investment Office approval for the $261 million deal was first sought in October last year, and had been slated to go unconditional by June 30, but delays in the approval process saw the companies agree to a revised date of Sept. 30. The deal would enable Silver Fern to repay its debt, removing a threat from its banking syndicate to withdraw support. It would also enable it to tap Shanghai Maling's supply chain and parent Bright Food's wholesale and retail networks to distribute into China.
Silver Fern Farm shareholders reaffirmed their support for the sale at a meeting last month, which was called by a group of farmer-shareholders opposed to the deal.
Should it be approved by the Ministers, the deal is expected to be settled on Jan. 4 next year.