The New Zealand Herald

Winning farm bidder not anti-foreigner

- Lucy Bennett — Additional reporting BusinessDe­sk

The successful bidder for a state-owned Southland farm says he is not anti-foreign investment but “chuffed” his bid won the day. Southland farmer Ed Pinckney said he learned yesterday morning that he was the unconditio­nal contract-holder for Jericho Station, a 1359ha sheep and beef station in Fiordland.

Landcorp Farming, the stateowned farmer trading as Pamu Farms of New Zealand, went with Pinckney after the preferred foreign buyer withdrew.

“I’m pretty chuffed, it’s been a big year,” Pinckney said.

“I’m not anti-foreign investment, I want to make that clear but I think it should be a level playing field, which is important,” he said.

“What do I mean by that? In the small difference­s in price values offered, there’s got to be a platform that is fair for both sides. If anything I think there’s definitely a place for it.”

Pinckney, who bid $8.5 million, was pipped by an $8.7m offer from Chinese buyer Qianlong Farms when the farm was put to market in late 2016.

“Pamu has been advised that the purchaser of Jericho farm has withdrawn their applicatio­n from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) and is therefore unable to complete the purchase of the farm,” said Landcorp spokesman Simon King. “As such we have proceeded to finalise the sale and purchase of the farm with the party that has made an unconditio­nal back-up offer, which does not require OIO approval.” Lisa Barrett, OIO deputy chief executive policy and investment, declined to comment other than to confirm the applicant had withdrawn their applicatio­n. Pinckney did not know why Qianlong had withdrawn but speculated that the hurdles the company faced may have been too high. He had big plans for the station, having had the past year to think about it. “We’ve been in limbo for almost a year. I had no plan B. I liked to think I had a good chance and the place is worth fighting for. We just did all we could and kept our head low,” Pinckney said.

“Condolence­s to the Chinese. It was never a thing about Chinese or Chinese investment. We just played our own game and ended up with it.”

Pinckney said Jericho had huge potential. “It’s a pretty exciting place to get hold of. I think it’s got a huge amount of potential to increase productivi­ty and production.”

He had just become engaged and was planning to move to Jericho, and out of his parents’ home, where he had been living for some months.

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