NZ regulator halts Tegel's purchase of land for huge chicken farm -company

WELLINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - New Zealand’s overseas investment regulator on Monday turned down Tegel Group Holdings Ltd application to buy land on which it planned to build a huge chicken farm in the country’s north, the firm said.

Tegel, in the process of being acquired by the local unit of Philippines poultry supplier Bounty Fresh Food Inc, wants to construct a farm capable of raising 9 million chickens a year for meat in the town of Dargaville.

That would make it one of the largest chicken farms in the country, but the plans have encountered stiff opposition from the local community, worried about potential noise and pollution as well as the impact on a nearby indigenous Māori meeting and burial ground.

A Tegel spokesman told Reuters by phone that the country’s Overseas Investment Office had told the company on Monday morning that it would turn down its request to buy the land, and that the reasons for the decision would be released later, likely by month-end.

The regulator did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Shares in Tegel had edged up 0.8 percent to NZ$1.23, compared with a 0.25 percent drop in the broader New Zealand market.

Bounty made a NZ$437.8 million ($300 million) cash offer to acquire Tegel in April, which the New Zealand firm’s directors in June unanimously recommended shareholders to accept.

New Zealand’s economy is widely recognised for its agricultural prowess, with a clean image that makes its dairy and other produce sought after in Asian economies. (Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield Editing by Joseph Radford)