OIO approves 4.5ha land sale

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of a section of land in Queenstown to the principal of Wellard Group Holdings Pty Ltd, an export company based in Australia.

The consideration of the 4.5ha of land at Olivers Ridge, Elysium Way, Speargrass Flat, was $975,000, and was being sold by Alexander and Tara Blyth, of the United Kingdom, to Mauro Balzarini, of Italy.

The OIO decision said Mr Balzarini had business dealings in New Zealand through Wellard Group Holdings Pty Ltd's subsidiary, Wellard NZ Ltd, which required him to spend about two months a year in New Zealand.

Mr Balzarini had recently established a residence in New Zealand to further his business interests and the application related to a piece of land next to one he had previously purchased.

In April last year, the OIO approved the purchase of 7.4ha at the same site from the R. L. and S. S. Farrell Trust - Campbell Farrell, Angela Cochran-Farrell, Robert Farrell, Susan Spencer Farrell and John Woolley - for $5.5 million.

"Wellard Group Holdings Pty Ltd's intention is to develop its New Zealand exporting business, with a focus on the export of breeding cattle, meat cattle and sheep," the decision said.

"It views New Zealand as strategically important as New Zealand produces agricultural products that are in high demand throughout the world.

"Wellard Group Holdings has built a very successful business in Australia and intends to replicate this in New Zealand."

The OIO found the investment would benefit New Zealand by "enhancing and protecting areas of indigenous vegetation".

"The applicant has also offered to contribute to the Wakatipu Trails Trust, and is a key person in the shipping and livestock industries."

The decision said the transaction had satisfied the criteria of the Overseas Investment Act 2005, in particular, the "substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealanders" relating to the indigenous vegetation and fauna, consequential benefits and given Mr Balzarini was key person in a "key industry".

Mr Balzarini is also the chairman of Siba Ships, the commercial shipping arm of the Balzarini family business.

- tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz


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