Sam Morgan buys Wanaka station for $25m-plus

Hillend Station occupies the flanks of Mount Alpha, overlooking Wanaka. Inset: Sam Morgan
Hillend Station occupies the flanks of Mount Alpha, overlooking Wanaka. Inset: Sam Morgan
TradeMe's founder Sam Morgan is now the proud owner of an iconic high country sheep station near Wanaka.

Infinity Investment Group said the sale of Hillend Station to JIT Hillend Investment Ltd, a company controlled by interests associated with Mr Morgan, settled today.

The price was $25 million plus goods and services tax. Mr Morgan did not return messages and the vendor is not saying what his plans are for the property.

Mr Morgan said in a statement issued by Infinity that he was delighted to have secured ownership of the station.

"It's an exciting new challenge for me and I look forward to investing further in the region, while continuing all of Infinity's good work in preserving the unique beauty and character of the area," Mr Morgan said.

Infinity owned the property for nine years and had it valued at $33m. It has two consented development options. One is 41 lot farmpark and the other a subdivision into 31 titles of 20ha.

Mr Morgan could pick up either option or continue to run the station as a high country property.

"It is a very exciting opportunity for him. What we have got here is an iconic South Island property," said Infinity's general manager Marc Bretherton.

He said $25m was a fair price in the current climate.

Hillend is 2665ha and is on the lower slopes of Mt Alpha.

Earlier this month the Government purchased St James high country station in North Canterbury for $40m and it plans to open the station to recreational users.

Infinity has about $1.6 billion of property developments in the South Island, including the Pegasus township near Christchurch.

Property developers around the country are under severe pressure as funding becomes harder to source as global financial markets meltdown and as property prices decline.

Investors who are cashed up are in a good position in the current climate to take up opportunities.

Mr Morgan is estimated to be worth about $260m after TradeMe was sold to Fairfax Media for $750m. He is now chairman of the company.

The Otago Daily Times has reported that the Hillend development projects have projected revenue of $67m.

Mr Morgan's other business interests include Jasmine Investments, a company set up to provide cash for smaller technology companies.

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