Property: Corporate advisers steer overseas investment review

The National Business Review 2009 - 22 May 2009
Applications to be sped up and red tape cut under professionals' review

Chris Hutching

The Property Council is predicting big changes for the Overseas Investment Act when the cabinet reviews the legislation next month.

The council has championed the overhaul of the act as a priority and briefed Land Information Minister Richard Worth.

The main thrust will be to reduce the threshold where screening of a deal is required, particularly when involving the definition of "sensitive" and "special" land, which will require legislation to change. The other main reforms, which will not require legislation, will be to immediately ensure that more applications are decided by the Overseas Investment Office, rather than ministers. This will mean applications are turned around more swiftly, according to the Property Council.

A technical reference group has been appointed to assist the review. The appointees are; Andrew Petersen of Bell Gully in Auckland, Don Holborow of Simpson Grierson in Wellington, Garth Sinclair of Russell McVeagh in Auckland, Tim Williams of Chapman Tripp in Auckland, and Andrew Monteith a partner at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in Auckland.

All of the professionals in the reference group have experience in acquisitions and takeovers involving leading multinational corporate players.

One of Mr Williams' colleagues has published his views on the required changes in a publication available on his company's website. He claims that the definition of sensitive land often captures trivial and unexpected transactions; "for example where there is a tidal creek or murky stream at the back of a factory site or a commercial property adjoins a small park or a small access reserve."

But long time anti-foreign investment lobbyist Murray Horton of the Campaign Against Foreign Control in Aotearoa, described the team as a "patsy set up."

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