China seeking to invest in Australian dairy company

China’s sovereign wealth fund is looking to seek a piece of Australia’s largest dairying operation, The Van Diemen’s Land Company, operating in Tasmania.

The company, which has 250 000 dairy cows, 6 500 beef cows covers 19 000 hectares employs 160 people.

It is now proposing to double its production and workforce with an investment of $180 million, Business Day reports.

The move comes after Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings met with the president of the China Investment Corporation, Gao Xiqing, to discuss trade and investment opportunities.

Following the talks, Giddings said the company was particularly interested in exploring agricultural opportunities in Tasmania.

If the Chinese investment goes ahead, it would become another sticking point within the coalition after the unease expressed within the National Party about Chinese state entities buying into Australian farmland.

A poll conducted earlier this year found that 81 per cent of people were opposed to foreign investment, with over 60 per cent saying they were strongly opposed.

The poll also found almost 60 per cent of people thought the federal government was allowing too much Chinese investment in Australia.

The chief executive of the Van Diemen's Land Company, Michael Guerin, told The Age last night it had been seeking to raise equity capital domestically and internationally for some months but would not reveal if a deal had been struck with the Chinese sovereign wealth fund.

He said the estimated $180 million the company was seeking would about double the current equity.
''There has been a lot of interest. We remain confident that we can raise the money for our plans,'' he said.

"There are a number of investors potentially interested in our project.''

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