The Schrock Cole Partnership, owned 50/50 by Leonard Schrock and Jane Cole of the U.S.A., has been refused consent to acquire 24 hectares of land at Waitara Road, RD 2, Napier, Hawkes Bay. The price and seller have been suppressed.
The land was part of a larger farm and “contains an old shearers quarters which has been converted into a low budget fishing lodge”. Schrock and Cole had visited the lodge on a number of occasions as tourists. They would make “some improvements” – only $24,000 worth during the first year – but “it was likely the lodge will basically continue to run as it is currently being operated”. The rest of the land would at first be leased to the neighbouring farmer, with a forestry block “possibly” being developed on the land in the “longer term”.
The OIC took the view that this does not equate to the proposal being in the “national interest”, and it “was of the opinion that the proposal, in essence, was a ‘passive investment’ in New Zealand land. It would seem that the property was being acquired so that the Applicants could continue to utilise it for their fishing holidays in New Zealand while at the same time making it available to third parties to defray operating expenses.”
Boise Cascade Office Products Corporation, which is owned by Boise Cascade Corporation of the U.S.A. has approval to acquire New Zealand Office Products Ltd and Croxley Stationery Ltd from Blue Star Group Ltd for a price the OIC says is “to be advised”. Blue Star Group is owned by US Office Products Company of the U.S.A. (USOP).
Boise Cascade, a major forestry company, has been in the centre of controversy in Mexico, Chile, the U.S. and Canada because of its environmental practices in involvement in the logging of old-growth and endangered forests, and because of the deaths, torture, arrests and imprisonment of peasants opposing logging in which it was involved in Mexico, amid allegations of corruption. More of this below.
According to USOP’s own news releases, Boise originally offered US$115 million ($274 million) to buy Blue Star Business Supplies Group in Australia and Aotearoa, but in the end paid US$114 million ($272 million). The sale includes contract stationery, retail office supplies, educational supplies, and office furniture businesses throughout Aotearoa and Australia, and manufacturing, importing, and wholesaling of related office products. Revenues from the operations being sold were approximately US$300 million ($711 million) for the year ended 29/4/00.
The sale was part of the unravelling of the acquisition by USOP of a dominant position in the office products, books and stationery market in Aotearoa when it purchased Blue Star in 1996 from Eric Watson. However USOP got into financial trouble and in April 2000 came under pressure from its banks to sell off some of its “non-core” assets. In May it announced it had retained Credit Suisse First Boston to sell Blue Star’s retail book and stationery business, which it did not regard as a core part of its business.
The current sale excludes Blue Star’s retail book and printing subsidiaries, but attempts are continuing to sell them. Blue Star owns Whitcoulls and 50% of the Books and More chain, which together have 60% of the book and stationery market in Aotearoa. Its closest competitor is the Paper Plus group, which has about 25% of the market (Press, 3/10/00, “Bookstore price war on the way”, p.16). According to USOP, “Blue Star’s Retail Group operates the sixth largest bookstore chain in the world, including New Zealand’s leading bookseller, Whitcoulls, and Australia’s largest bookstore chain, Angus and Robertson” (http://www.usop.com/bluestar/bluestar.html). Its printing interest is through its subsidiary, McCollam Printers Ltd.
At the same time as the sale to Boise, Watson’s company, Cullen Investments, bought back another part of Blue Star, Blue Star Business Solutions (of which it already owned 60%). This owns a number of information technology and telecommunications companies, including gen-i (formerly Wang New Zealand), Cogent Communications, Ubix Document Solutions, Hart Candy, Auldhouse Computer Training, and Leasing Solutions (Press, 19/9/00, “Watson to buy rest of Blue Star”, p.11). Judging by the USOP news release, Watson was able to twist an arm or two in obtaining the 40% interest in Blue Star Business Solutions, which included taking over its debt. According to the news release, Watson (“the former CEO of Blue Star Group”) “has agreed to relinquish potential claims against USOP that could have delayed or blocked this as well as any subsequent Blue Star divestitures”.
One of USOP’s core interests is Mail Boxes Etc., “the world’s largest franchiser of business, communications and postal service centres, with more than 4,200 locations in 29 countries around the world”.
For details of the tacky story of Watson’s purchase and sale of Blue Star and its subsidiaries, and USOP’s various acquisitions and sales, see our commentary on OIC decisions in February 1996, March 1996, June 1996, July 1996, September 1996, May 1997, February 1999, and February 2000.
(The USOP news releases referred to above can be accessed on its web site, http://www/usop.com. They are: “US Office Products Announces New Agreement With Bank Group”, 28/4/00; “US Office Products Exploring Strategic Options for Blue Star Consumer Retailing; Business Operates the Largest Bookstore Chains in New Zealand, Australia”, 24/5/00; “US Office Products Announces Agreement to Sell Blue Star Business Supplies Unit for $115 Mil-lion; Deal with Boise Cascade Expected to Close within 30 Days”, 15/9/00; “US Office Products Receives $114 Million From Sale of Blue Star Business Supplies Unit; Company Amends Credit Facility to Obtain Additional Liquidity”, 6/10/00.)
The Boise Cascade Corporation, according to CorporateInformation (http://www.corporateinformation.com),
“is an integrated paper and forest products company. The company manufactures and distributes paper and wood products, distributes office products and building materials and also owns and manages timberland to support these operations. Paper and paper products include uncoated business, printing, converting papers, newsprint and containerboard. Office products include office and computer supplies, furniture, paper and promotional products. Building products include lumber, plywood, particleboard, veneer and engineered wood products. The company operates in the United States, Canada, Australia, Belgium, France, Spain and the United Kingdom…
Office products accounted for 49% of 1999 revenues; building products, 30%; paper and paper products, 20% and other, 1%.”
Its sales during the year ended December 1999 were US$6.95 billion. It has been increasing its office products sales at the expense of paper and paper products. Almost all of its revenues come from the United States. It employs 23,726 staff and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. It owns or controls more than 2 million acres of forests according to its own web site (http://www.bc.com).
Its web site also shows evidence of it being under heavy public criticism for its activities. It contains a response to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), denying all allegations of irresponsible logging practices, predatory logging, and “ruthlessly logging old growth in the Amazon, Canada, Chile and the United States”. The letter ends: “These statements lead us to believe that RAN holds malice against our company, and we ask that you immediately stop making false statements about Boise Cascade” and offers “accurate information” about the company’s operations.
It also contains answers to “frequently asked questions” about its operations in Mexico and Chile.
The Rainforest Action Network has an “Action Alert” out on Boise Cascade. It states:
“Headquartered in Idaho, Boise Cascade is one of the country’s top loggers and distributors of old growth forest products. Boise Cascade is logging and selling wood and paper products from the world’s rarest and most endangered forests. For example, Boise Cascade is actively logging old growth forests in Idaho, throughout the Pacific Northwest, and in central Canada. Boise Cascade also sells wood products that have been ripped from the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and Southeast Asia, and serves as a prime distributor of wood from British Columbia’s beautiful Great Bear Rainforest. Boise Cascade is increasingly out of step with modern public values and its business practices are indefensible in today’s marketplace.
To catch up with public values and meet the new standards being demanded by customers, Boise Cascade will need to undertake a fundamental transformation of its business practices.”
The situation surrounding Boise Cascade in Mexico is the most horrifying. The Rainforest Action Network describes it as follows, under a headline, “Globalizing Destruction: A Human Rights Disaster in Mexico”:
In April 1995, Boise Cascade signed a contract with the then-governor of Guerrero, Mexico, Ruben Figueroa, to purchase logs from local forestry ejidos (communal land holdings organized as production units). Boise’s contract was to extract twenty million board feet of timber from the region’s forests over five years. At the time, Figueroa was already in a dispute with the Organization of Campesinos of the Southern Sierra (OCSS), a group of local farmers, over logging in the region by companies other than Boise Cascade. By signing new contracts, Boise Cascade escalated what was already a very tense situation in Guerrero around logging.
On June 28, 1995, two months after the contract with Boise Cascade was signed, police massacred seventeen members of the OCSS on their way to a demonstration against logging, among other things. Some of those killed had warrants for their arrest dated the day after Boise Cascade’s contract was signed. Governor Figueroa was eventually forced from office because of his attempts to cover up the massacre. Six days after the massacre, Boise Cascade signed yet another logging contract in Guerrero. Boise Cascade exported wood back to the U.S. for three years, until June 1998 when Boise closed its mills in Guerrero, citing an inconsistent wood supply and bad weather.
On May 2, 1999, Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera, two farmer-ecologists involved in protesting logging in Guerrero, were arrested and beaten. They were later reportedly tortured with electric shock and forced to sign confessions. Although Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights ruled that evidence against the two activists was fabricated, Montiel and Cabrera were convicted and given six and ten year sentences. Amnesty International has designated Montiel and Cabrera prisoners of conscience and has started a joint campaign with groups including the Sierra Club, International Forum on Globalization, Global Exchange, American Lands Alliance, and Rainforest Action Network to free the prisoners. In April, Montiel received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in recognition of his leadership in stopping Boise’s destructive logging operations in Guerrero.
However appeals against the sentences have been unsuccessful. According to Inter Press Service, 1/11/00, reporting from Washington:
Environmental activists here are vowing to intensify their international campaign to win the release of two peasant leaders whose convictions stemming from a land dispute have been upheld by a Mexican appeals court.
Despite a federal rights panel’s finding that the men were framed by army officers, the appeals court ruling made public this week upheld drug and weapons possession convictions against Rodolfo Montiel, leader of the peasant farmers’ movement, which opposed illegal logging in the state of Guerrero, and Teodoro Cabrera, a member of the group.
Environmental and human rights groups in Mexico and abroad argue that the arrests of Montiel and Cabrera were based on trumped up charges. Their conviction, activists argue, actually stem from their efforts to stop illegal logging in the mountains around their village north of Acapulco.
“This ruling ... sets a dangerous precedent against environmental activists in Mexico,” says Alejandro Queral, director of the Sierra Club’s human rights and environment campaign.
The Sierra Club and the U.S. branch of Amnesty International are questioning the impartiality of Mexico’s judicial system since they say the judge did not accept new evidence supporting the allegations of torture produced by an independent team of doctors. According to Mexican law, both the prosecution and the defence are allowed to present new evidence during the appeals process.
In a statement written by Montiel and Cabrera released by the Sierra Club, the two prisoners said they would continue their fight from behind bars.
“We must not exchange the future of our children for a few coins,” it said.
On 24/10/00, the Rainforest Action Network “launched a new campaign targeting Boise Cascade, flying a 120-foot hot air balloon over Boise Cascade's headquarters”. Its web site shows an enormous inflatable dinosaur towering over the building (http://www.ran.org/ran/ran_campaigns/old_growth/balloon_photos.html).
Boise Cascade claims to conduct no logging outside the U.S. That may be because it obtains its wood (as in the Mexican case) from subcontractors whom it pays to do the logging for it. However it apparently has plans for logging in Chile in a joint venture, Cascada Chile, with Chilean company, Maderas Condor.
“The joint venture has proposed to build a manufacturing plant to produce oriented strand board (OSB), used primarily in housing construction. The OSB production would be exported, at first primarily to the western United States. The project would include construction of a modern deep-water port. The plant would be built in the community of Ilque, about 30 kilometers south of Puerto Montt.”
The Rainforest Action Network’s web site states:
The Central Bank of Chile has found that Chile’s native forests may be completely destroyed within the next twenty years. As the seventh largest importer of old growth wood from Chile, Boise Cascade is a key player in Chile’s forest crisis. Boise also has plans to invest US$180 million in a southern Chile wood chipping and oriented strand board facility that would be the largest of its kind in the world. The “Cascada Chile” project would double the rate of deforestation in Chile’s temperate rainforests.
Southern Chile currently holds more than one-third of the Earth’s remaining temperate rainforests. These rainforests are home to many unique plant and animal species, including the world’s smallest deer, the pundu, which stands only fifteen inches high. Scientists estimate that 90 percent of the species found in Chile’s native forests are found only in Chile. Boise’s mill would pose a particular threat to Chile’s rare “evergreen” coastal temperate rainforest, which has the highest level of species diversity of all of Chile’s forests.
Chilean individuals, organizations, and businesses have joined forces to stop Boise’s controversial project. Chile’s tourism associations unanimously oppose the mill, which would be located in the Lake District of Chile, an international destination for eco-travel. One study found that revenue from tourism is seven times more important to the region than wood chipping operations. Chilean salmon companies also strongly oppose the project because the deforestation would have a negative impact on water quality, damaging lakes, rivers, and streams, and thus contaminating nearby salmon farms.
In late 1999, Boise Cascade reported that unfavourable global market conditions had forced them to temporarily postpone – but not cancel – the company’s plans for ground-breaking on the Cascada Chile mill, originally scheduled for the year 2000.
Boise Cascade asks itself the question, “There have been claims that within Chile, there is a strong opposition to the Cascada Chile project. Is this true?” and answers:
“Negative publicity campaigns by a few organizations are understood for what they are, and for what they are not. They are not a reflection of broad opposition. Cascada Chile enjoys widespread support among the people of the Puerto Montt area. Those supporting the project include a majority of the Puerto Montt city council, the Central Union of Workers, Puerto Montt and Palena chambers of commerce, the Association of Small Landowners, neighbour’s unions of Ilque, Huelmo, Panitao, Rulo, Huito, Putenio, and others.”
It denies other claims, saying it is maintaining the highest environmental standards. (See http://www.bc.com/other/chile300.html)
The Rainforest Action Network also relates deceptive tactics by Boise Cascade to manufacture the appearance of public support:
In June, Boise Cascade was caught shamefully attempting to manipulate public process around the Clinton Roadless Initiative. Public polls showed overwhelming support for the initiative, which would prohibit road building in most national forests. The public comment period generated a record one million letters in support of the initiative. Boise Cascade opposes the measure, however, and was not dissuaded by public sentiment. Instead, Boise Cascade urged all of its more than twenty-thousand employees to request individual copies, delivered to each employee’s home address, of the initiative’s environmental impact statement – a six hundred page document with maps. By ordering thousands of copies of the environmental impact statement – which can be read online – Boise Cascade hoped to delay a decision on the initiative until a more friendly Administration entered the White House.
The company has had a terrible safety record in the past, but according to the U.S. Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has taken action to improve its act:
As a result of a detailed complaint filed by the United Paperworkers International Union, OSHA inspected the Boise Cascade Paper Company, Rumford, Maine. The inspection identified approximately 2,972 instances of wilful, serious, and other-than-serious violations, and OSHA issued citations with penalties of nearly $2.9 million. Following the inspection, Boise Corporation committed that this mill would never again exist in the state OSHA found it, and it would become the corporation’s flagship workplace in safety and health.
Since then, in the spring of 1993, the company joined the Maine 200 program – which identifies employers with high injury and illness rates and interacts with them to develop comprehensive safety and health programs at their workplaces – and to date has achieved: four million manhours without a lost-time accident in 1992; another 2.5 million hours without a lost-time accident in 1993; and after one lost-time injury in 1994, the company twice exceeded one million hours without a lost-time injury during 1994-1995. Boise Cascade reached its lowest recordable incident rate ever (5.10), dropping 22 percent from 1993 to 1994 and from about $120,000 to $86,000 in workers’ compensation costs, or a 28-percent decline for that period.
Boise also formed an ergonomics team as part of an injury education effort and began conducting safety and health seminars for the Maine safety conference.
Boise Cascade is in a joint venture with other forestry companies familiar in Aotearoa: International Paper (majority owner of Carter Holt Harvey), and Weyerhaeuser Company (forest owner in the Nelson/Marlborough region, bought from Fletcher Challenge in 1997):
ForestExpress, a global e-commerce marketplace dedicated to the forest products industry, today announced partnerships with Boise Cascade Corporation and with Willamette Industries, Inc., two leading forest product companies.
Boise Cascade and Willamette join as equity partners alongside of Georgia-Pacific Corp., International Paper, Weyerhaeuser Company, and The Mead Corporation.
Macquarie CountryWide Trust, of Australia, has approval to acquire “various supermarket properties” in the Foodtown and Countdown chains owned by Progressive Enterprises Ltd for $83,545,500. It will then lease them back to Progressive, which is 57.96% owned by Foodland Associated Ltd of Australia.
Macquarie Countrywide is a listed retail property trust managed by the Macquarie Bank. The Bank describes itself as “the only independent Australian full service investment bank” (http://www.macquarie.com.au/aboutus/cag/about_us.htm). Macquarie Countrywide “focuses on supermarket based properties where the majority of rent is from national anchor supermarkets. The company has 64 properties located across Australia, 20 in New Zealand, 14 in Queensland, 12 in Victoria, 8 in Tasmania, 7 in Western Australia and 3 in South Australia.” (Wright Investors’ Service, http://profiles.wisi.com/profiles/scripts/corpinfo.asp?cusip=C03697600).
Macquarie Bank has disturbing links to the new right. As documented in Reclaiming the Future, by Jane Kelsey (pp.63-67), the Macquarie Bank is a 25% shareholder in Tasman Asia Pacific, a consulting off-shoot of the Tasman Institute. The Tasman Institute was formed in 1990 as a substitute for a private Tasman University in Auckland and Melbourne supported by Roger Douglas, Alan Gibbs, Rupert Murdoch, Douglas Myers, and Michael Fay, among other right-wing businessmen and politicians on both sides of the Tasman. The main individual driving it was Monash University professor Michael Porter (not the Harvard one). The idea collapsed with Australian Government opposition and the 1987 sharemarket crash. The Tasman Institute was funded by equity contributions of A$50,000 each from six companies (including Electricorp, headed then by Rod Deane) and A$100,000 from Porter. It worked closely with the Business Roundtable, even awarding Roger Kerr the first “Tasman Medal” for “services to economic reform”. It had Roger Douglas as one of three founding directors. Both the Tasman Institute and Tasman Asia Pacific are affiliated with Melbourne University.
Tasman Asia Pacific’s business is essentially advising on privatisation and corporatisation in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. It has had contracts from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (“promoting private sector investment in key infrastructure sectors”, Tasman focusing on water supplies), and has advised Australian and other governments on water, roads, electricity, telecommunications, ports and taxation, among others. It took an important role in the radical Rogernomics-like policies followed in the Australian state of Victoria by a government led by Jeff Kennett. With business groups it formed and led “Project Victoria”, which developed the privatisation strategies in preparation for the Kennett government gaining power in 1992. Tasman Asia Pacific describes Project Victoria as follows: “Tasman was one of the two founding consultancies conducting the preparation of reports and strategies for Project Victoria. The Project, which sought to develop new economic and institutional reform strategies for Victoria, particularly for infrastructure, has now flowed through to the implementation stage in areas such as electricity privatisation, Work-Cover, gas, transport and water supply sector reform.”
In May 1998 Tasman Asia Pacific announced a new joint venture with the Macquarie Bank under which Michael Porter was appointed a Director (Project and Structural Finance) of Macquarie Bank Limited, based in Sydney, with work focused on the South East Asian region. He retained his involvement with Tasman, though he resigned as Managing Director.
The current shareholders of Tasman Asia Pacific are: Macquarie Bank Ltd, Kayarem Pty Ltd (Rupert Murdoch), Michael Porter, Fosters Brewing Group Ltd, Baillieu Myer, Coles Myer, Pratt Foundation, and ANZ Bank Ltd. Its Board consists of: Sidney Myer (Chairman), Roger Douglas (Deputy Chairman), Michael Carapiet, John Fernyhough, Nicholas Moore, Michael Porter, Machai Viravaidya, and John Zeitsch. Its Advisory Council includes Roger Douglas as co-chair, Roderick Deane, Rupert Murdoch, Arvi Parbo, and Ronald Trotter. For further information see its web site, http://www.tasman.com.au.
There is an additional political connection within Aotearoa. The Chairman of Macquarie New Zealand Limited is Jim McLay, the former National Party Deputy Prime Minister, and one of its most unsuccessful Leaders of the Opposition. He is also principal of J K McLay Limited in Auckland, “specialising (inter alia) in foreign investment in New Zealand and Australia, Pacific Basin business and investment, corporate, project, financial and industry negotiations, corporate and strategic planning, public policy advice and planning, New Zealand and/or Australian representative of overseas companies and government relations”. In other words, he is a lobbyist and agent for foreign investment. His part in privatisation and corporatisation programmes in Aotearoa are indicated by some of his other posts: in 1998 he was chair of the Wholesale Electricity Market Development Group which advised the National Government on wholesale electricity market restructuring, and chair of the Roading Advisory Group that advised Government on road funding reform (see http://www.med.govt.nz/crown_minerals/1998_pet_conference/mclay/mclay-19.html).
McCain Foods (NZ) Ltd, owned by the McCain Family of Canada, has approval to acquire 11 hectares of land at Sheffield St, Timaru, Canterbury, for $410,625. It adjoins its current plant “and is seen as a strategic move in anticipation of a projected production increase”.
On 13/9/00, the Timaru Herald reported that McCain Foods was beginning a “multi-million dollar expansion of french fry production” at Timaru over the next few months. It would increase the capacity of the factory by about 50%. It included replacement of equipment in the production line, centred on the fryer, as well as additional potato storage. The managing director of McCains Foods, in Hastings, would say only that it was a “multi-million dollar investment with potential to eventually process 100,000 tonnes of potatoes each season”. It was targeted at export markets, McCain having contracts for supplying french fries to “several fast food chains in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, India and the Philippines”. The new plant would be operational by next February. It was not expected to increase the number of jobs on site, but was likely to require “a significant increase in the acreage of potatoes grown in South Canterbury”. It had purchased “ten hectares of land adjoining its Washdyke site” to cope with future expansion, but with “no short-term plans for development of the land.”
Neil International Ltd, owned by the Tiong Family of Malaysia, has approval to acquire 0.2 hectares of land at 7 Mercari Way, Albany, Auckland, from Caltex New Zealand Ltd for $596,250. The land was originally part of a Neil International subdivision. The adjoining land, still owned by Neil International, is part of the Albany Centre Development, a commercial and retail development due for completion in 2001, to which this land will be added. Caltex is owned 50/50 by Texaco and Chevron Corporation, both of the U.S.A.
· Southland Plantation Forest Company of New Zealand Ltd, ultimately 51% owned by New Oji Paper Company Ltd, 30% by Itochu Ltd, and 19% by Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd, all of Japan, has approval to buy 204 hectares of land at 161 Waituna Lagoon Road, South Kapuka, Southland for $337,500 for forestry. It is currently used for sheep grazing. As usual with its purchases, all forestry activities will be conducted under contract by South Wood Export Ltd of Japan. The last such purchase was in July 2000.
In July 1998 (the OIC says 1999, but our records show otherwise), Suppiah Dhanabalan, whom the OIC describes as the Chairman of the Development Board of Singapore, through his company, Lot 10 Closeburn Ltd, was given approval to acquire 37 hectares of the 935 hectare Closeburn Station at Glenorchy Road, Queenstown, Otago. He was going to “construct a high standard dwelling on the land, for the use by his immediate family and guests of the Dhanabalans from Singapore”.
The Station is owned by J F Investments (New Zealand) Ltd, in turn owned 70% by David Salman of Indonesia, and 30% by David Benjamin Broomfield of Aotearoa. They are subdividing nine hectares of the station into 27 residential allotments as “lifestyle properties”, each of which has a share of the remaining station, which is farmed using the capital from the sale of the residential lots. Each purchaser of a residential lot owns a part of the nine hectares (in this case 0.26 hectares) plus a 1/27th share in the remaining 926 hectares of the Station (in this case 37 hectares). See our commentary on the July 1998 decisions for further details.
However “the Asian crisis of 1998 has stymied the proposed developments by Lot 10 Closeburn Station. Mr Dhanabalan has had a greater demand place on his current role as Chairman of the Development Board of Singapore”. As a result of the crisis, Dhanabalan’s proposals are “no longer feasible”. Building a house on Lot 10 “is not likely to proceed given the personal financial and employment circumstances of Mr Dhanabalan”.
J F Investments is very obligingly buying the land back for $552,000, and will likely put it on the market again. Such kindness is not often seen in property developers. Dhanabalan paid $500,000 for it in 1998, plus an annual levy of $3,000. Perhaps there is a special relationship there.
Although the OIC describes Suppiah Dhanabalan as the Chairman of the Development Board of Singapore, he does not appear in that role on the Singapore Government’s web site. That provides the information that he is a former Minister of National Development and Minister for Trade and Industry. He is now chairman of the DBS Bank, and has been chairman of an important advisory group to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) since the group was formed in March 1999. The Financial Centre Advisory Group comprises “leading members of the financial community in Singapore” and is to “institutionalise dialogue and consultation between MAS and the industry” (See http://www.mas.gov.sg/newsarchive/050399-c.html). He is also a member of the Ministry of Information and the Arts Advisory Committee on Indian Radio & TV Programmes (http://www.mita.gov.sg/padind.htm).
The DBS Bank, according to its web site is “the largest banking group in Southeast Asia, and is ranked among the top 100 banks in the world”. DBS Group Holdings Ltd (the holding company of DBS Bank)
“is one of the largest companies whose shares are listed on the Singapore Exchange in terms of market capitalisation. As at 29 February 2000, the Singapore government owned 35% of DBS Group Holdings ordinary shares. The Singapore government also holds non-voting convertible preference shares issued by DBS Group Holdings and its shareholding on a fully diluted basis is 42%. DBS Bank and its subsidiaries form the largest banking group in Singapore in terms of shareholders’ funds and total assets as at 31 December 1999, being approximately S$10.2 billion and approximately S$106.3 billion.”
It has over 10,000 employees, five million customers and is present in 13 countries. (http://www.dbs.com/dbsgroup/investor_relations/corporate_profile.shtml).
Radiata Rock Ltd, a 50/50 joint venture between Olsen and Company Ltd of Aotearoa and Juken Nissho Ltd of Japan, has approval to acquire ten hectares of “profit à prendre” (rights to take) at Kokohu Road, Nuhaka, between Wairoa and Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, for a sum “to be advised”. What is to be taken from the land is roading material to service Juken Nissho’s forestry roads in the area. It has “some 15,000 hectares” of forestry in the region. Juken Nissho is 85% owned by Juken Sangyo Company Ltd, and 15% by Nissho Iwai Corporation, both of Japan.
· Theca Meijer of the U.K. has approval to acquire nine hectares of land at Woodhill, Park Road, Waimuku, Auckland for $600,000. It will be leased to members of the family who operate a spring bulb growing business on the land. Meijer “advises that she intends to take up New Zealand permanent residency once she reaches retirement age”.
· AliceClaire Properties Ltd, owned by D.T.V. King and S.J. Ambrozek of the U.S.A., has approval to acquire the 2,180 hectare Pakira Station, Waikura Valley, East Coast (Gisborne) from Pakira Station Ltd of Aotearoa for $3,375,000. King and Ambrozek
“intend to make New Zealand their home in the next two years following the acquisition, purchasing a substantial home in Auckland. Mr King intends to farm the Pakira property himself part-time while retaining the current staff. Mr King is also intent on becoming a full time software entrepreneur in New Zealand and will possibly invest in a New Zealand software company. The Applicants intend to invest up to NZ$15 million in various farming/agribusiness entities over the next five years. The basis will be at least two substantial farms, forestry investments and may also include specialist vegetable/herb production property closer to the major hotel/restaurant trade in Auckland.”
They say they will improve the infrastructure on the Station, including building a 150-200ft bridge; make improvements to buildings, including a 1926 Kauri homestead; install a small hydro plant, which will provide the electricity needs for the property; install a pipeline to provide irrigation for the entire property; and modification, extension and upgrading of the existing airstrip. All on a sheep and beef farm, of which part is in native bush and scrub. The OIC believes them so it must all be true.
This sale did not go ahead because another company, The Ingleby Company Ltd of the U.S.A., bought it. It received OIC approval to acquire the property in September 2000 – for the considerably higher price of $5,460,984 (see our commentary on that month’s decisions).
· The Framingham Wine Company, which is 40% owned by Andreas E. Rihs of Switzerland and 60% owned by five New Zealanders, has approval to acquire eight hectares of land at Condors Bend Road, Marlborough for $862,080 for the development of a winery. Framingham needs the winery to “grow to become a genuine international boutique winery”. The land is being purchased from R.R. Brooke-Taylor and P.K. Brooke-Taylor. P.K.J. Brooke-Taylor and Rex Brooke-Taylor each own 12.5% of Framingham. The other New Zealand shareholders are Gordon Frederick Abernerthy (20%), Peter Stubbing (10%), and Michelle Mangos (5%). In August 1998 we reported that Rihs had taken a 40% shareholding in Framingham, which then had approval to buy almost three hectares of land at Conders Bend Road for $210,000. The land was part of an existing vineyard owned by the original owners of Framingham Wine Company, the same R. R. Brooke-Taylor and P.K.J. Brooke-Taylor, who were then together 40% shareholders in the company, was to be used to develop a winery. Abernethy has since taken up a shareholding. In May 2000, Rex Brooke-Taylor of Aotearoa sold land for vineyards in two very similar OIC decisions. In the first, Rihs received approval to acquire up to 80% of Kaituna Vineyards Ltd, which owns 170 hectares of land at Kaituna, Blenheim, Marlborough, for an amount “to be advised”. The land was currently bare and the company intended to develop it as a vineyard to market wine under its own label. Rihs would “become involved in the management of the company and the development of the vineyard”. In the second, J. Larter of the U.K. received approval to acquire up to 50% of Northbank Wine Estates Ltd, which owns eight hectares, also at Kaituna, for $154,688.
· Cabal Properties Ltd, owned by Lord Thomas Clifford of the U.K., has approval to acquire 12 hectares of land from Greystone Vineyard Ltd, at McKenzies Road, Waipara, North Canterbury for $202,500. He intends to develop a vineyard on the land and sell on contract to Langdale Wines “who will then produce vintages specifically targeted at the European market (United Kingdom)”. Clifford has “contacts in the United Kingdom and Europe” who will “enable him to identify and secure potential export markets”.
· D. and F. Ramsay of Thailand have approval to acquire 15 hectares of land at Parkburn Farm, State Highway 6, Luggate to Cromwell, Central Otago, for $294,750. It will be used for planting grape vines for commercial wine production, and adds to nine hectares of land at Gibbston Back Road, Gibbston, Central Otago that they received OIC approval to acquire in November 1999 (see our commentary for that month). They “propose to immigrate to New Zealand once their existing business commitments allow”.
· Athlumney Farms Ltd, owned by the Cleary Family of Ireland has approval to buy two further properties in Southland. One is of 37 hectares at Waianiwa for $329,625, and the other is of 69 hectares at Oporo Flat Road for $572,882. Both adjoin existing dairy farms owned by the company and will be used to expand them. The OIC reports that Athlumney owns seven farms in the Southland district. The last such acquisitions were in May 2000, when the Cleary family also acquired two farms in Southland.