Shanghai Pengxin Group Co Ltd, buyer of the Crafar family’s farm portfolio & majority shareholder in Synlait Farms Ltd, has signed an agreement to buy the 13,843ha Lochinver Station in the central North Island from the Stevenson Group family.
The rural station, 32km from Taupo, was put on the market for the first time in 54 years last December through a Bayleys tender, which closed in February. It has carrying capacity assessed at 105,000 stock units, and was promoted with an expectation that its capacity would soon increase to 120,000 stock units.
Shanghai Pengxin’s acquisition, through local subsidiary Pure 100 Farm Ltd, requires regulatory approvals from the Overseas Investment Office & Chinese regulatory authorities.
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig revealed the transaction, still conditional, on Friday and said his party would oppose all substantial land sales to foreign business interests.
Shanghai Pengxin has a controlling interest in Synlait Farms owner SFL Holdings through NZ Standard Farm Ltd & Milk NZ Holding Ltd. Through Milk NZ Holding, the group bought the Crafar family’s 16 farms from their receiver in 2012.
Shanghai Pengxin separated Synlait Farms from Synlait Ltd in February to create 2 pure-play investments after Synlait Ltd had an unsuccessful capital-raising. Synlait Ltd now holds 49% of Synlait Milk Ltd, owner of the group’s milk manufacturing assets. At the separation point, Mitsui & Co Ltd sold out of Synlait Farms, ending a 5-year relationship.
The Chinese group plans to secure operational synergies between Lochinver & some of its neighbouring North Island farms. It also secured a 74% stake in 13 South Island farms in March and has committed to capital improvements and implementing innovative industry concepts.
Stevenson Group has been a force in road & infrastructure development for more than a century, supplying aggregates & concrete-based building products and mining & quarry management. The company got approval a year ago to rezone 361ha of rural & quarry land at Drury South for a mix of industrial & business development.
Jackie Harrigan gave the history & current state of Lochinver Station in an article in Young Country magazine last year. Among the points in her story was the strongly growing China connection through regular shipments of Friesian dairy heifers – up to 14,500 shipped out at a time through Napier.
The Stevenson family bought its first 5260ha in 1958 and, from 1961-82 under Sir William Stevenson, 12,500ha of scrubland was converted to productive farming.
Shanghai Pengxin began as a commercial property developer in 1997 and expanded into farming in China, South America & Cambodia and copper mining in the Congo since 2005.
Attribution: Company release.