The likely multimillion-dollar sale of nine Southland farms
owned by debt-ridden state-owned enterprise Solid Energy
appear set to be concluded.
In what was considered one of the largest multi-farm
offerings in the country, tenders closed a month ago on the
more than 2000ha of the combined nine farms, which covered
millions of tonnes of low-grade lignite coal.
PGG Wrightson real estate general manager Peter Newbold had
been confident of interest in the farms, given recent demand
for dairy land had exceeded supply.
When contacted yesterday and asked about either domestic or
international tenders for the properties, he said the process
had been ''positive'', but was unable to comment further as
an announcement on the sale process is scheduled for next
When coal prices were at their peak in 2011, Solid Energy
invested hundreds of millions of dollars into research and
development of alternate energy sources.
However, a price plunge of more than 40% bought Solid Energy
to its knees, revealing massive debts of more than $220
million, a $200 million revenue slump and subsequent annual
losses of $40 million and then $335 million.
Following widespread redundancies and restructuring, after
the sudden departure of long-time chief executive Don Elder,
''non-core'' assets were put up for sale, including the farms
and a $29 million prototype lignite conversion plant near
The nine farms are all within a 5km radius between Mataura
and Gore, relatively close to Fonterra's Edendale processing
An industry source from Southland, who did not want to be
identified, understood interest in the farms had been
He said all the farms had been subject to some form of
negotiation during the past month and it was possible all
might have sold.
Solid Energy was once earmarked by the Government as its
fourth state-owned enterprise to be floated, but that was
canned after it posted the massive losses, which crippled the
company and prompted a $100 million government bailout and
refinancing last year.
Three dairy farms milking 2015 cows; targeting 785,000kg of
milk solids this season.
Two dairy conversion properties, totalling 550ha.
Four dairy support properties totalling 580ha.
The nine farms range in size from 33ha to 399ha, and total
Source: PGG Wrightson