The Herald reports:
The future ownership of New Zealand’s biggest meat processor, Silver Fern Farms, is a matter for its farmer shareholders to determine, says Finance Minister Bill English.
Silver Fern is going through a capital raising process, which media reports have suggested will involve an investor from China – the company’s biggest market – spending up to $100 million on taking a stake in the company.
Any overseas investor would have to go through the Overseas Investment Act processes to get there, English said.
“But fundamentally that is a choice for the shareholders of the company. So the owners who are the farmer shareholders have had quite some time to look at the issue, various attempts to raise the capital.
“The New Zealand farmers who are shareholders have total control over that business now, and it is in their power to keep control over it, so we can’t really force them to own a business if they don’t want to own it.”
English said some of the company’s owners believed the business was a strategic asset and one that should remain in New Zealand hands, but for that to happen the necessary capital needed to be found.
“The real test is not whether people have an opinion, it is whether they are willing to put the money up.”
Separately, Labour leader Andrew Little said Silver Fern’s capital structure would be a matter for Silver Fern’s shareholders to decide.
“My position on foreign direct investment is that adding jobs, adding investment and creating new value for New Zealand – that’s a good thing. If it doesn’t achieve that, then it’s something that we should be concerned about.”
Good to see Little pulling Labour back from some of their previous hostility to foreign investment, and recognising it is a matter for shareholders.
This is in contrast to Winston who as far as I can tell wants the Government to nationalise the company.