Ministers say no to Lochinver sale

Ministers have declined an application by a foreign company to buy Lochinver Station:

An overseas company’s application to purchase Lochinver Station has been declined because the benefits to New Zealand are not substantial and identifiable, Ministers Paula Bennett and Louise Upston say.

Pure 100 Farm Ltd, a subsidiary of China-based Shanghai Pengxin, applied to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) last year to buy the 13,800 ha farm near Taupo for $88 million.

“Because Lochinver Station is classified by law as sensitive land, Ministers must consider whether the application meets the requirements set out in the Overseas Investment Act,” Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett says.

“While we recognise and support the importance of overseas investment, the Overseas Investment Act states it is a privilege for overseas people to own sensitive New Zealand assets and therefore requires such investments to meet statutory criteria for consent.

“After detailed and careful individual consideration, we are not satisfied there will be, or is likely to be, a substantial benefit to New Zealand – a key requirement for applications of sensitive land of this size.”

While the OIO said the question of whether the benefits of the potential investment to New Zealand are or could be substantial and identifiable was finely balanced, it recommended approving the application.

“We agreed parts of the proposed investment could benefit New Zealand but in our judgement on the overall balance of evidence, the benefits are not likely to be substantial and identifiable,” Land Information Minister Louise Upston says.

“This proposed sale didn’t pass a test we are required to exercise Ministerial judgement on.

“This is an example of our system working well.  The OIO conducted a thorough investigation before making a finely balanced recommendation.  Ministers carefully assessed the evidence and ultimately came to different view.”

A summary of the reasons for the Ministers’ decision can be found here.

This decision shows the bar for overseas ownership of farm land is set very high.

It is very difficult for a would-be foreign buyer to prove that it would provide more benefits than a local one, even if the local is hypothetical.


12 Responses to Ministers say no to Lochinver sale

  1. pdm says:

    This is an abrogation of the sellers rights to get the best price for the property which they have spent many millions of dollars developing of many years.

    A stupid decision.


  2. andrei says:

    Disagree PDM – anyone who works the land of his birth for foreign masters living in distant lands is a serf.

    The Land is our sovereignty


  3. pdm says:

    andrei – are you saying the Stevensons who have owned the property for about 50 years are Serfs who are not entitled to the best possible rewards for their hard work and creativity?

    A further factor in this instance is that as I understand it a large proporion of the sale proceeds are going to be utilised in a further business venture in South Auckland that will employ something like 400 people.

    Sounds like zenophobia to me.


  4. pdm says:

    oops – proporion – should be proportion.


  5. Mr E says:

    I trust those in positions made the right call.

    Regarding Grant Robertsons remarks, he suggested the OIO got the process right because the application was rejected.

    But the OIO recommended to the government that it was accepted. It was the Govt that rejected the application.

    It seems Labour is still having capability issues. Hopefully their leader jumps on Grant and points out his apparent error.


  6. andrei says:

    I am saying, PDM, New Zealanders have to decide who they are as a people – a free independent nation, free to deciding her own destiny or vassals to multinationalist money men.

    This is the issue of our age – New Zealand’s farmland is insignificant in the battle for men’s souls we are observing globally, but never the less once surrendered it will be hard to reclaim it


  7. pdm says:

    We will have to agree to disagree andrei.


  8. Gravedodger says:

    As a nation with a suggested policy, we welcome foreign investment, this has all the hallmarks of a poll driven fruitcake created response and had the intending buyer been say Harvard University, a Western country’s pension fund, a wealthy American in the Julian Robertson or James Cameron class I wonder if it would have unfolded this way.

    Are we now to see a Xenophobia clarification amendment for the rules the OIC operates under.

    Bad Look from my perch I am sad to say.

    If that was the Gummints application of what constitutes a significant parcel of land I have to ask did Ms Bennett and or Ms Upston ( its in her electorate) ever have a gander at Lochinver if so why did they wait until their last hope in the OIC had given the lawful go ahead.
    Lochinver has not changed significantly since The Stevensons Put it up for sale, HOW LONG AGO?


  9. Dave Kennedy says:

    I applaud the decision, well done to Paula Bennett and her fellow Ministers for seeing sense. I welcome foreign investment but not the ownership of our land. As Andrei says, losing sovereignty over our resources limits our capacity to use them in the best interests of the people who live here. We will become tenants of our own country, a sad and powerless position to be in.


  10. just one word – Hurraay… on second thoughts don’t most of the big investments from China come from money lent by the Chinese government.?
    Seeing how much fertile farm-land, as well as other investments has been bought up in places like Africa, South America and even the US, to balance out the desertification of China’s farming country, It seems sensible to hold onto our land.
    In the US the Chinese buyers referred to the Amish as the Aborigines… what would they term indigenous people in other countries one wonders?


  11. Freddy says:

    A gutless decision..!
    The test should be to show a competence to farm the land to at least the same efficiency and productivity which SP would have met. I feel sorry for all the thousands of people in South Auckland who’ve missed out on jobs. Maybe SP can use their $88ml to build the 4000 homes in South Auckland for the Stevenson’ , any objection to that Paula?


  12. pdm says:

    valeriedavies – do you even know where Lochinver Station is? Fertile land it is not being a largely pumice base.

    Freddy – well said.


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