Foreign investor rules questioned in Riverina agribusiness sale

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Part of Temora-based BFB's 407,350 tonnes of grain storage capacity.
Queensland Country Life | 14 November 2018

Foreign investor rules questioned in Riverina agribusiness sale

by Mike Foley
 
A group of Riverina farmers is demanding answers from the federal government over the sale of BFB, a large diversified agribusiness in Temora, which is being sold by a US private equity investor to a Canadian pension fund.
 
A consortium of Riverina farmers, Agrinova, is unhappy BFB’s owners US-based Proterra Investment Partners knocked back its $270 million offer, opting instead for a bid of $200m from Canada’s largest superannuation fund, Public Sector Pension Investments (PSP).
 
Agrinova has written to the Prime Minister to raise its concerns.
 
Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board regulations requires that the sale of foreign-owned land assets is in the national interest, affords equal access to local and foreign bidders, and that the sale process is transparent.
 
Leader of the Agrinova consortium, former NSW Irirgators chairman and farmer Richard Stott, questioned how the sale could satisfy the FIRB’s national interest test.
 
“In my observation, the vendor is making a mockery of the Australian agricultural industry and FIRB guidelines, as it now appears that you get a discount on land and assets if you are foreign investor,” Mr Stott said.
 
Agrinova was advised by Proterra’s advisor, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) on October 16 it was eligible to participate in the due diligence stage of the sale process, after which a binding offer could be made.
 
However, PwC advised Agrinova on October 26 that it had opted to proceed with Public Sector Pension’s offer.
Original source: QCL
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