Australian Radio Network completes takeover of New Zealand Radio Network
Australian Radio Network Pty Limited, owned 50% by Clear Channel Communications Inc of the U.S.A., 20% by Independent News and Media PLC of Ireland, and 30% in Australia has approval to acquire the remaining shares in the New Zealand Radio Network Limited for $56,719,448 from Colorgraphic International Limited which is 40% owned by Independent News and Media PLC and 60% in Australia.
“The Applicant, who is one of Australia’s largest commercial radio operators, currently has a 66.6% shareholding in New Zealand Radio Network Limited, proposes to increase its shareholding up to 100%. New Zealand Radio Network Limited is a market leading broadcaster in New Zealand and the largest commercial operator through its subsidiaries The Radio Network of New Zealand Limited, The Radio Network Limited, and Look Outdoor Limited. The proposal is a result of an agreement between the Applicant’s shareholders to equalise their respective shareholdings in New Zealand. The Applicant advises that it is likely that a reduction of the number of shareholders will improve cohesion and focus on the performance of the New Zealand operation.
In fact the 50% shareholding in Australian Radio Network is held by APN News and Media (APN), which is 40% owned by the Irish parent company, Independent News and Media, and 60% in a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. Colorgraphic is a subsidiary of APN, through which it had a one third shareholding in New Zealand Radio Network, the remainder held directly by Australian Radio Network.
Clear Channel Communications has become notorious in the U.S.A. for its rabid support of the war on Iraq. According to prominent economist and New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman,
Most of the pro-war demonstrations around the country have, however, been organized by stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, a behemoth based in San Antonio that controls more than 1,200 stations and increasingly dominates the airwaves.
The company claims that the demonstrations, which go under the name Rally for America, reflect the initiative of individual stations. But this is unlikely: according to Eric Boehlert, who has written revelatory articles about Clear Channel in Salon, the company is notorious and widely hated for its iron-fisted centralized control.
Until now, complaints about Clear Channel have focused on its business practices. Critics say it uses its power to squeeze recording companies and artists and contributes to the growing blandness of broadcast music. But now the company appears to be using its clout to help one side in a political dispute that deeply divides the nation.
Why would a media company insert itself into politics this way? It could, of course, simply be a matter of personal conviction on the part of management. But there are also good reasons for Clear Channel which became a giant only in the last few years, after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 removed many restrictions on media ownership to curry favor with the ruling party. On one side, Clear Channel is feeling some heat: it is being sued over allegations that it threatens to curtail the airplay of artists who don’t tour with its concert division, and there are even some politicians who want to roll back the deregulation that made the company’s growth possible. On the other side, the Federal Communications Commission is considering further deregulation that would allow Clear Channel to expand even further, particularly into television.
Or perhaps the quid pro quo is more narrowly focused. Experienced Bushologists let out a collective “Aha!” when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company’s top management has a history with George W. Bush.
The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel’s chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university’s endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire. (New York Times, “Channels of Influence”, by Paul Krugman, 25/3/03, Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 17 , Column 6.)
[Decision number 200310032.]
Telstra Corporation Limited of Australia has approval to acquire the 41.57% of TelstraClear Limited that it doesn’t own for $26,860,000 from AUSTAR United Communications Limited, which is owned 81.3% by United Global Com Inc of the U.S.A. and 18.7% in Australia.
The Applicant, who currently has a 58.43% shareholding in TelstraClear Limited, proposes to increase its shareholding up to 100% as the other shareholder (Austar United Communications Limited) has indicated it is looking to exit its investment in TelstraClear. The proposal will enable the Applicant to further increase its investment in and its commitment to New Zealand and is likely to ensure a continuation and further enhancement of the benefits that TelstraClear has bought to the New Zealand telecommunications industry.”
Austar had in any case been in some financial trouble.
[Decision number 200310040.]
OMV New Zealand Limited, owned by OMV Aktiengesellschaft of Austria, has approval to acquire the New Zealand operations of Preussag Energie GmbH, including 35.8618% of the Pohokura field development which owns 44 hectares of land at Otaraoa Road and Main North Road (SH 3), Motunui, Taranaki for $254,476,908 from Preussag Energie GmbH of Germany.
“The Applicant, who is Austria’s largest listed industrial company and the leading Central and Eastern European integrated oil and gas group, proposes to acquire Preussag Energie GmbH’s (Preussag) New Zealand business which comprises interests in Petroleum Exploration Permits Pohokura, Huinga, Makino and Block I. Preussag has recently sought to reduce its participation in the energy industry worldwide, focusing instead on its tourism business, and this transaction forms part of the global divestment. The proposed acquisition which will increase the Applicant’s participation in the New Zealand energy industry is a core component of the Applicant’s strategic growth plan.”
[Decision number 200310034.]
Macquarie Goodman Industrial Trust of Australia has approval to acquire Auckland Business Park Pty Limited, whose assets include 10 hectares at 86 Plunket Avenue, Manukau City, Auckland for $19,943,420 from Linfox Property Group Pty Limited of Australia.
“The Applicant is an Australian industrial property trust listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The Trust specialises in warehouse/distribution centres, industrial estates, business parks and office parks. The Applicant sees the acquisition of the subject property as meeting its objective of diversifying the geographic spread of its investment properties whilst principally concentrating on demographically sound locations in order to grow its asset base and market capitalisation. The current and proposed use of the property is for warehousing purposes by Ford Motor Company of New Zealand Limited and Linfox Logistics (NZ) Limited.”
[Decision number 200310025.]
ING Retail Property Fund Australia, owned 30% by ING Real Estate Investments International III BV of the Netherlands, 20% by Prudential Property Investments of the U.K., 20% by GIC of Singapore, 20% by ABP Investments of the Netherlands, and 10% by SBA Artsenpensioenfondsen of the Netherlands, has approval to acquire “the business assets and undertakings of the Dress-Smart Portfolio which comprises three shopping centres located at Onehunga - Auckland, Tawa - Wellington and Hornby – Christchurch”, including 3.4 hectares of land at 24-32 Main Road, Tawa, Wellington, for a suppressed amount from AMP Life Limited, owned 89% in Australia and 11% in Aotearoa.
“The Applicant is part of the global ING group, one of the largest insurance, banking and asset management groups in the world. The Applicant is an Australian based wholesale unlisted property fund with interests in shopping centres throughout Australia. The proposed transaction to acquire the Dress-Smart centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will enable the Applicant to diversify the geographic spread of its properties which are currently primarily located in Australia.”
[Decision number 200310037.]
Pacific International Insurance Limited of Australia has approval to acquire 0.88 hectares at Units 3 and 4, 485B Rosebank Road, Avondale, Auckland for $913,750 from Harbourside Properties Limited of Aotearoa.
“The Applicant’s key business incorporates the provision of insurance underwriting for the pest control industry in Australia. The Applicant is actively establishing a presence in New Zealand in the same market as part of an expansion push into the Asia Pacific region. The Applicant proposes to acquire Unit 3 for its own occupation and Unit 4 is being acquired subject to an existing lease in favour of Expert Solution Providers Limited. The acquisition of Unit 4 will provide the Applicant with the ability to expand its New Zealand operations once they have established their business presence.”
[Decision number 200310033.]
· Three groups of investors from Taiwan have approval to acquire land at 152 Elgood Road, Ngaruawahia, Waikato from the New Zealand Forestry Group Limited, which is owned 76% by Wesley Garratt of Aotearoa and 24% by J Hong of Taiwan. They are all members of the Elgood Forest Owners Association, which “has entered into an arrangement with New Zealand Forestry Group, the Vendor, to develop approximately 148.6 hectares of land at Ngaruawahia. The majority of this area (80 percent) has already been planted in forestry with the remaining land to be planted in 2003”. They are:
· The Liu and Shih Family Trust, 20 hectares for $147,580 [Decision number 200310028];
· The Jeng Chung Yi Family Trust, 16.9 hectares for $124,640 [Decision number 200310029]; and
· The Lins Family Trust, 21.5 hectares, for $155,459 [Decision number 200310038].
These sales are like many in this and other regions organised by New Zealand Forestry Group, the last such sales being in October 2002, also in Ngaruawahia, with investors in the Brooklands Forest Group. The investors provide the money, while New Zealand Forestry Group manages the development of the forestry operation. This is the first involving the Elgood forest.
Jebsen & Co (China) Limited, owned by the Jebsen Family of Hong Kong, has approval to acquire 40% of Sacred Hill Wines Limited for $2,000,000 from Sacred Hill Winery Limited, owned by the Mason Family of Aotearoa. Sacred Hill has an interest in 106 hectares of land comprising:
· 59 hectares at Dartmoor Road, Puketapu, Hawkes Bay;
· a 50% share in 28 hectares at Gimblett Road, SH 50, Hawkes Bay; and
· 18.1 hectares at Jacksons Road, Marlborough.
“The Applicant, who acquired a 30% interest in Sacred Hill Wines Limited in 2001, is an international distribution, service and marketing company with experience in the wine industry. The acquisition was viewed as a means of expanding Sacred Hill’s export business and to assist with the development of the viticultural business of Sacred Hill through the introduction of development capital. Sacred Hill is currently facing a significant reduction in production caused through a series of frosts resulting in a severe impact on its productive ability. The Applicant is proposing to inject further capital by increasing its shareholding, to provide capital for Sacred Hill’s business plans and export strategies.”
In August 2001, we reported that Jebsen and Co (China) Ltd, which was then 84% owned by the Jebsen Family of Hong Kong and 16% by J.H. Jessen of Singapore, had received approval to acquire up to 30% of Sacred Hill Winery Ltd from the Mason Family for $3,000,000. Sacred Hill Winery then owned 59 hectares of land at Puketapu. In a second decision, Sacred Hill Wines Ltd acquired 18 hectares at Jacksons Road, Marlborough for $4,050,000. See our commentary for that month for further details.
[Decision number 200310041.]
· Nobilo Wine Group Limited, owned by BRL Hardy Limited of Australia, has approval to acquire 50.7 hectares at Hammerichs Road and Blicks Lane, Blenheim, Marlborough for $393,750 from Maxwell Logan and Marita Karen Gifford of Aotearoa. “The property is being acquired to secure an appropriate area for the discharge of waste water from the Applicant’s nearby Drylands Estate Winery. The production at the winery has increased to such an extent that the existing arrangements for the discharge of the waste water from the winery are inadequate. The acquisition will give Nobilo the security to expand the processing facility at Drylands Estate. If the property is not acquired then any option to expand production at Drylands Estate would be severely limited. Drylands Estate has a resource consent valid to 2016 to discharge waste water onto a part of the property. The Marlborough District Council has agreed in principle to Nobilo’s proposal to distribute the waste water over a larger area of the property.” [Decision number 200310039.]
Nikken Foods Co Ltd, owned 74% by Hirotomo Ochi of Japan and 26% in minority shareholdings in Japan, has approval to acquire two further blocks of land near Oamaru, Otago:
· 32.2 hectares at 160 Fortification Road, Totara, Oamaru for $669,378 from JP and NTY Lim of Aotearoa [Decision number 200310043]; and
· 15.5 hectares at 347 Fortification Road, Totara, Oamaru for $506,250 from Stephan Family Trust of Aotearoa [Decision number 200310044].
Similar purchases were approved in February 2003 (see our commentary for that month for further details and previous purchases), all in order
“to acquire approximately 250 hectares in the North Otago region, within a 5 kilometre radius of the Teschemakers college. It is proposed that the land to be acquired will be utilised for experimental/research purposes, as buffer land and for commercial production. The Applicant envisages that the international college will encourage and promote post-graduate study, research and development in the area of organics and healthy-living. This will provide demand for workable tracts of land with boundaries free of contamination from insecticides, herbicides and genetically engineered plants and crops.”
Fly Fishing Adventures of New Zealand and Australia Pty Limited, owned by Felix Borenstein of Australia, has approval to acquire 6.5 hectares at Owen Valley East Road, Murchison, Nelson for $430,000 from NE and MA Mappin of Aotearoa.
“The Applicant who is an Australian citizen proposes to relocate to New Zealand and acquire a lifestyle property situated near Murchison. The Applicant intends to reside on the property and renovate the existing four bedroom dwelling to provide tourist accommodation specifically for fly fishing aimed at the mid-price market. The property has previously been operated as a bed and breakfast but is currently only a private dwelling. The Applicant is demonstrating a commitment to New Zealand through relocating to New Zealand and residing on the property.”
[Decision number 200310030.]
Otahuna homestead bought by U.K. couple
Gregory John Leniston and Julie Evelyn Leniston of the U.K., have approval to acquire 12.1 hectares at Otahuna, Rhodes Road, Tai Tapu, Christchurch, Canterbury for $4,300,000 from SG and EA Radford-Kirby of Aotearoa.
“The Applicants intend to move to and reside in New Zealand permanently and are currently applying for Long Term Business Visas. The subject property is to be utilised as the family residence. The Applicants propose to establish an alternative energy (fuel cell) consultancy business in New Zealand that will promote the use of hydrogen fuel cells and acquire the exclusive distribution rights of products which will produce hydrogen and utilise hydrogen powered fuel cells. The property will be used as a private residence and will not be used as a base for the Applicants’ proposed business. The Applicants are demonstrating their commitment to New Zealand through applying for and taking up Long Term Business Visas.”
According to Chris Hutching (National Business Review, “Sir Heaton Rhodes’ historic mansion sells for $4.3m”, 2/5/03, p.52), this is the Otahuna homestead, an early 20th century “A-classified historic property” which is the mansion built for a prominent member of the Canterbury aristocracy, Sir Heaton Rhodes (1861-1956). It was purchased two years ago by the Radford-Kirbys, also British immigrants, for $2.5 million, who have spent about $1 million on renovations. [Decision number 200310031.]
· Hindrik Kruisbrink and Shakila Kruisbrink-Gill of the Netherlands have approval to acquire 8.8 hectares at Pukenui Road, Kaiwaka, Northland for $120,000 from Misty Heights Development Company Limited of Aotearoa. “The Applicants are applying for New Zealand permanent residency under the General Skills category and propose to acquire a lifestyle property situated at Kaiwaka. The Applicants intend to construct a residence on the property and reside on the property. The property is part of a subdivision of a larger block of land currently used by the vendor for dry stock grazing. The Applicants propose to use the property for a macadamia nut plantation. The Applicants are demonstrating their commitment to New Zealand through applying for and taking up New Zealand permanent residency.” [Decision number 200310035.]
· The Mataka Station, Purerua Peninsula, Bay of Islands, Northland is being subdivided into lifestyle blocks. This month, two sales of such blocks have been approved. In each case they have been acquired for a suppressed amount from Mataka Limited of Aotearoa:
· B Sabrier of the U.K. has approval to acquire 20.3 hectares [Decision number 200310036]; and
· Laurent Esquier of the U.S.A. has approval to acquire 47.9 hectares [Decision number 200310042].
“The acquisition of this property by the Applicant is part of a rural lifestyle subdivision development on Mataka Station. The establishment and sale of the lifestyle lots will provide capital that will enable the farming operation of Mataka Station to become economically viable, and also to preserve and enhance the conservation and historic values of the property.”
· Christopher Jonathan Hayward of the U.K. has approval to acquire 7.7 hectares at Glasgow Street, Pahiatua, Wairarapa for $402,000 from CJ and AB Davies of Aotearoa. “The Applicant who is a holder of a New Zealand residence permit and returning residents visa proposes to acquire a lifestyle property located at Pahiatua. The Applicant intends to reside on the property which has a dwelling. The Applicant proposes to relocate to New Zealand once his English property has sold. The Applicant is an experienced farmer/farm contractor and proposes to operate a similar business in New Zealand from the subject property. The Applicant is demonstrating a commitment to New Zealand through holding New Zealand residency and relocating to reside permanently in New Zealand.” [Decision number 200310027.]
· Jennifer Ann Barb of Singapore has approval to acquire 6.4 hectares at 278 Centennial Avenue, Arrowtown, Otago for $875,000 from SMS Blair of Aotearoa. “The Applicant is applying for New Zealand permanent residency under the Business Investor category and proposes to acquire a lifestyle property situated at Arrowtown. The Applicant intends to construct a dwelling and reside on the property. The property has not recently been used for any economic purpose. The Applicant is demonstrating a commitment to New Zealand through applying for and taking up New Zealand permanent residency.” [Decision number 200310026.]
For the first time this year, the value of investment approved in the year to March 2003 is considerably higher than for the previous year. Most of this is due to one investment this month and transactions last month whose values were previously suppressed. By far the greatest part of the value of the approvals is for sale from one overseas investor to another.
Investment involving land
All but one of the sales involved land. However both gross and net sales of land approved by the OIC during the years to March have decreased in area. There have been no refusals this year (see above), compare to three by this time last year.