1 Aug 2011

Foreign ownership of East Coast forestry blocks approved

5:31 am on 1 August 2011

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of East Coast forestry blocks totalling more than 12,000 hectares, by one foreign owner to another.

The Trust Company of Australia has been given clearance to sell five forestry sites in the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay regions to the Tiong Family of Malaysia, for $95 million.

Four of the blocks, the Waiau, West Ho, Moonlight, and Tolaga Forests are in the wider Gisborne area.

The other, Merriwa Forest is at Rissington in Hawke's Bay.

The new owners say they will continue existing forestry operations.

The Overseas Investment Office has also cleared an Italian woollen mill operator to take full ownership of two merino sheep farms in the Upper Waitaki Valley.

The Botto Poala family already holds two thirds ownership of the farms, comprising more than 16,000 hectares of leasehold and freehold land and is buying the remaining shares held by the Lempriere family of Australia.

The Italian buyer manufacturers merino wool from the farms into worsted fabrics for high end garment manufacturers including Hugo Boss and Armani.

Its strategy is to control the quality through all stages of production, from farming the wool to processing it.