Tens of thousands of hectares approved for sale to foreigners

About 33,000 hectares of forestry land is among property approved for overseas sale. Photo/Amos Chapple
About 33,000 hectares of forestry land is among property approved for overseas sale. Photo/Amos Chapple

The Overseas Investment Office has approved multiple deals allowing foreigners to buy tens of thousands of hectares of land in New Zealand, although two of the deals involve entities that are already partially foreign owned.

The new Government has vowed to ban the sale of residential, farm and sensitive land to foreigners and is planning to overhaul the law.

Meantime, deals are still being approved under the existing Overseas Investment Act to sell land classified as "sensitive" to foreign entities.

In the largest deal released today, approval has been given for the overseas sale of just over 33,550ha of rural New Zealand land to a mostly US-owned asset management firm.

The deal is part of a global merger between the firm, TRG Allocation, and the land's owner GMO Renewable Resources which is listed as being 71 per cent US owned and 28 per cent New Zealand owned.

TRG would not be acquiring a beneficial interest in the land or in significant business assets, according to the decision which was approved last month.

As part of the approval, the investment was deemed to benefit New Zealand by creating two ongoing fulltime positions.

It would also maintain the country's overseas image and international relations, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) said.

The land included Just under 33,000ha of forestry land in Otago, Clutha and Taupo as well as about 396ha of dairy farm land in Canterbury and 268ha of vineyards in Marlborough.

The decision did not detail how much had been paid for the land.

In a separate decision, the sale of 233ha of freehold land and 297ha of leasehold land in Canterbury has been approved.

The Crossing Limited, owned by Henrietta and William Brownlee, is being sold to Craigmore Dairy which is majority-owned by the European Public and German Public.

Craigmore Dairy is an agricultural investment company which is part of the wider Craigmore Farming Group.

Around 313ha of the land is currently used for dairy support, which the buyer plans to convert to full dairy farming.

The OIO deemed the investment would benefit New Zealand through the conversion to dairy farming which would produce jobs, increase exports and improve efficiency and productivity.

The price paid was not disclosed.

In a third approved decision, 46ha in Hamilton is being sold by Geange Farms Limited to CDL Land New Zealand which is 39 per cent New Zealand owned, and an NZX-listed company.

CDL planned to develop residential housing sections on the land, creating a modern, high-quality residential subdivision which would then be sold on the open market.

The OIO said CDL had a number of other investments which had provided jobs and the land was still at least partially remaining New Zealand owned.

Approval has also been given for a $121.9 million commercial property investment.

New Zealand ZhiXiang Investment plans to buy about 1.024ha of non-sensitive land in Queenstown to build a hotel.

The OIO said it was satisfied the individuals running the company had the relevant business experience and acumen, and had demonstrated financial commitment to the investment.

In a further decision, the OIO has given approval for the lease of just under 20ha of Hastings land to T&G Global Limited which is 74 per cent German owned, 20 per cent Chinese owned and just under 6 per cent New Zealand owned.*

T&G Global is a grower, distributor, marketer, exporter and processor of fresh produce and planned to use the land to develop an apple orchard, predominantly for export.

The investment was likely to result in the creation of additional jobs, increasing apple production, exports, capital investment in the orchard and additional royalties for plant variety rights.

The price paid was not disclosed.

Consent was also granted to City Developments' planned acquisition of 34.8 per cent of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, for up to about $1.3 billion, which excluded a special dividend of about 38c per share.

The company was proposing to increase its existing ownership in Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, which held interests in Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand and CDL Investments New Zealand, which had interests in sensitive land and collectively assets valued at more than $100 million.

City Developments owners included Singapore's Hong Leong Group with 48.4 per cent.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels via its interests in Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand and CDL Investments New Zealand and other subsidiaries, had land interests in the Far North District of approximately 5.23ha, Auckland Council region (27.86ha), Hamilton City region (101.48ha), Rotorua District (1.01ha), Southland District (0.88ha) and Nelson City region (11.78ha).

*Correction: This story initially said that T&G had applied to purchase land. This was incorrect.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2018, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (cfusion) on production apcf04 at 24 Oct 2018 08:17:03 Processing Time: 608ms