By Laura Beavis
The $280 million sale of Tasmanian dairy giant Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL) to a Chinese businessman has been finalised, with talk of expansions and 200 new jobs.
The settlement transferred all of VDL’s dairy farms in north-west Tasmania, including the historic Woolnorth property, to Moon Lake Investments.
Moon Lake’s Lu Xianfeng said he was delighted the sale had been finalised.
“From my first visit to the region I could see its unique attributes, and since that time, have been keen to do what I can to further develop the potential of the VDL assets,” he said.
“I would particularly like to thank all those who have supported me over this period, which is the start of what I hope to be a long and fruitful relationship.”
Moon Lake has promised to keep VDL’s current workforce of about 140, to honour existing milk supply contracts and environmental considerations, and to recognise the significance of Aboriginal heritage in areas on VDL’s properties
It has committed to improve farm productivity and work with Brand Tasmania to add value to its products.
It said it plans to increase milk production by investing in the current farms and developing new dairy farms where VDL currently grows heifers.
The company has previously indicated it intends to invest an extra $100 million dollars in the operation and add up to 95 extra jobs.
Circular Head mayor Daryl Quilliam said in recent discussions with the company he had been told there would be up to 200 new positions created.
“I’m being told there’s going to be eight or nine dairies and each dairy would employ around six or seven families, and so it’s not only just single people,” he said.
“Some of these are going to be family people, so that could be up to 20 to 30 people down there on each farm.
“It’s not only the jobs, it’s going to be our business people, who have been struggling a little bit in Smithton as well, so it’s going to mean there’s going to be more business for them.”
VDL was sold by New Zealand’s New Plymouth District Council and has been foreign-owned since it was established on a land grant 190 years ago.
The purchase was approved by the Foreign Review Board in February after Moon Lake staved off two rival bids by Australian companies.
In January, Tasmanian businesswoman Jan Cameron announced plans to underwrite a rival bid for VDL, in an attempt to put the business into Australian hands.
Another company, TasFoods launched legal action after it was overlooked as a potential buyer.
TasFoods was awarded $1.25 million in an out-of-court settlement.
VDL currently milks 17,890 cows over 7,062 hectares and has Tasmanian approval to expand operations by clearing more than 1,800 hectares of native vegetation.