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Kathmandu founder bids for ownership of Tasmanian diary company

Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron is preparing a bid to buy Australia’s largest dairy farm in an attempt to stop overseas buyers taking control.

Cameron is the third party to come forward for the dairy producer, alongside majority Australian-owned food consortium TasFoods and Moon Lake Investments, which is owned by Chinese billionaire Lu Xiangfeng.

Despite being established in 1824 with an operation including 25 dairy farms and a standalone Heifer Rearing Operation, the company has never been Australian owned.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Cameron said she will lodge a formal expression of interest, “commercially similar” to the Moon Lake bid by Friday.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring the magnificent Van Diemen’s Land property into Australian ownership for the first time,” Cameron said.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said in a statement that the current New Zealand ownership and the fact a Chinese investor is trying to purchase it is “entirely irrelevant”.

“The fact that this is a commercial asset of strategic proportions and it would be irresponsible in the extreme for the Government to miss this opportunity to bring VDL into Australian ownership,” Wilkie said.

Second bidder TasFoods had their $250 million offer rejected and is set for a hearing at the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria on February 21.

According to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act, federal Treasurer Scott Morrison or the Foreign Investment Review Board are required to take alternative local bids into account when making foreign investment decisions.

The Australian dairy Industry is estimated to be worth $13 billion, with more than 6000 dairy farmers producing 9.7 billion litres of milk each year.

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