Sweet Chinese Deal for Silver Fern Farms is Sour for Farmers

Published: Mon 12 Oct 2015 02:17 PM
Rt Hon Winston Peters
Member of Parliament for Northland
New Zealand First Leader
12 OCTOBER 2015
Sweet Chinese Deal for Silver Fern Farms is Sour for Farmers
New Zealand First is unsurprised that Silver Fern Farms has reacted bitterly to the latest counter proposal to keep it Kiwi.
“The CEO of Silver Fern Farms may use all the bluster under the sun, but this Shanghai Maling deal is nothing less than an ultimatum dressed up as an opportunity,” says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“New Zealand First’s Red Meat Industry Restructuring Bill, in contrast, would poll those with skin in the game on a Kiwi owned merger of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group.
“While the Silver Fern Farms deal is frozen from 15 October 2015, the co-op has provisional banker support contingent on a yes vote until 30 June 2016. That will probably happen since it’s a case of vote yes, or the likes of KordaMentha will be called in as receivers.
“The caveats to a yes vote are the Overseas Investment Office and of course, New Zealand First’s Meat Industry Restructuring Bill.
“However, by next June, Silver Fern Farms’ debt is forecast to be slashed by another $57m. As time passes the deal becomes sweeter for the Chinese but only more sour for farmers.
“And with the way beef prices are holding up, it is highly likely that by the middle of 2016, Silver Fern Farms net tangible assets will increase from $340m to about $400m.
“This means Shanghai Maling and the Chinese government will get a $139m discount in return for $261m in cash. As a direct result, the co-op’s board is being forced by its foreign bankers to give away $140m worth of farmer assets. That is not a good deal.
“It is also a reminder of what happens when New Zealand has no Kiwi owned commercial banks. Who are the winners here? A Chinese state-owned enterprise, Australian, Dutch and Anglo-Chinese banks, as well as Goldman Sachs, an American investment bank.
“What is good for New Zealand or the Kiwi red-meat farmer does not figure with so much international self-interest when we are led to believe Goldman Sachs stands to gain $8-10m in commission from the Shanghai Maling deal,” says Mr Peters.

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