One of China’s biggest finance companies is looking to invest in Tasmania’s dairy industry. The Premier, Lara Giddings, flew back to Tasmania yesterday after spending 12 days in Asia promoting the state. Ms Giddings met the president of China Investment Corp, a sovereign wealth fund, to talk about investing in Tasmania.
A spokesman for the Premier says the fund is particularly interested in investing in Tasmanian agriculture, especially dairy projects. It is not known which areas the company is targeting, but Australia’s largest dairy farm at Woolnorth in the north-west is in the final stages of raising up to $180 million equity to double milk production.
Four of the fund’s executives toured the Woolnorth property earlier this month. VDL’s chief executive Mike Guerin says several investors are interested but he will not say if they are local or from overseas. “They’re making offers to us at the moment,” he said. VDL is more than 98 percent New Zealand-owned.
Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan says he has not seen a proposal but supports foreign investment. “Chinese investment, or foreign investment more generally whether it’s from Europe, whether it’s from Great Britain or from the United States is welcome in this country because it supports jobs,” he said. “If there is any proposal that were to come to us about investment in dairy, or anywhere else, what the Government does is apply our national interest test.”
Backlash warning. The Farmers and Graziers Association has warned against any public backlash over potential Chinese investments in the sector. TFGA spokeswoman Jan Davis says foreign investment is welcome in Tasmania and farmers should be able to deal with companies from Australia and overseas.
“Farmers need to be able to access the capital that they want to expand their businesses,” she said. “Where that capital comes from, to us, is immaterial. “Ultimately, you can’t take the land anywhere, it stays here and farmers need to be able to work as hard as they can.”
Tasmania’s dairy industry body is encouraging any investment in the sector, regardless of whether it is local or foreign.
Mark Smith from DairyTas says the industry body is positive about foreign investment in the state’s dairy farms. “VDL have operated successfully as a New Zealand-owned company in Tasmania and there’s no reason why that can’t continue into the future with either a combination of investment from elsewhere, such as China, or just from China itself.”
Source: ABC News Sep 2012