Government to get greater powers to decline foreign investment bids that don't meet a new 'national interest' test, and bids involving strategic assets that wouldn't otherwise need Overseas Investment Office consent

Government to get greater powers to decline foreign investment bids that don't meet a new 'national interest' test, and bids involving strategic assets that wouldn't otherwise need Overseas Investment Office consent

The finance minister will be given the power to decline major overseas investment bids if they fail a “national interest” test, to be introduced under proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act.

Currently, overseas investment in significant business assets, sensitive land and fishing quotas require approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

Most applicants have to meet an “investor test” to show they’ll behave in line with New Zealand’s laws and norms. Those who want to invest in sensitive land generally also have to meet a “benefit to New Zealand test”.

The Government is proposing to introduce a “national interest”, designed to be used as a backstop tool to manage significant risks associated with transactions already screened under the Act.

It will apply where a foreign government or its associates would hold at least a 10% interest in an asset, where investments present national security risks, and where investments are proposed to be made in strategically important industries and national infrastructure.

These include in ports, airports, major media companies, suppliers to New Zealand’s defence, security and intelligence agencies, and electricity, telecommunications and water infrastructure.

Associate Finance Minister David Parker expects the power will be “rarely exercised”.

Asked whether the changes were being made with China in mind, Parker said they weren’t related to particular countries.

Strategic assets better protected

Changes to the Overseas Investment Act will also give the government the power to screen transactions involving “strategically important” assets that wouldn’t otherwise require consent under the Act.

For example, it would be able to screen investment of more than 25% in a media company, worth less than the $100 million threshold that deems it a "significant business asset", where overseas control could damage New Zealand's security or democracy.  

Because this power will apply to transactions that aren’t ordinarily subject to screening under the Act, firms will have to notify the government of transactions involving military or dual-use technology, or critical direct suppliers to defence or security services.

A law change will also see enforcement powers improved. The maximum fixed penalty for not complying will rise from $300,000 to $10 million for corporates.

Red tape cut for lower risk investors 

To balance some of these changes restricting foreign investment, the Government will cut some red tape out of the process.

It will set timeframes for the Overseas Investment Office to review applications to give investors more certainty.

It will exempt a range of low risk transactions from screening. For example, small increases in existing shareholdings in companies that don't materially impact on the ownership or control of sensitive assets.

It will also remove KiwiSaver funds and listed entities that are majority owned and wholly controlled by New Zealanders from the Act.

The Government will also simplify the "benefit to New Zealand" test.

A Bill will be introduced to Parliament in early 2020.

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Welcome to the party pal!

It doesn't take too much imagination to read a lot into that! But I guess the 4 Other Eyes will like this development.....and hot on the heels of announcements that 5G would not be a 'done deal' with Huawei.

Australian governments have “carefully cultivated” the relationship with China but must now be “very cautious” about further engagement.


Perhaps all New Zealand politicians might get the idea that the New Zealand government needs to govern for the benefit of New Zealand. We have government for the benefit of China and the benefit of property investors/speculators, government for the benefit of low-skilled immigrants (and those approved to leave by the CCP), and for the benefit of low-value, low-principled enterprises. Our current leaders need to move from these benchmarks - and government by virtue-signalling - to a principled and active sense of national responsibility. Maybe this is a start. No-one elsewhere will look after our interests.

Feel sorry for you having such a distorted view of NZ and the relationship between NZ and China.

IF such a view were commonly shared within all level of NZ, there would be no wonder why NZ is deteriorating.


Your sympathy, xingmowang, would be better focused on Tibetan Buddhists, the Uyghur people, the numerous 'disappeared' lawyers and others in China, and the citizens of Hong Kong fighting to preserve an environment of liberty and legality - all of whom, with many other groups and individuals, are victims or coming victims of CCP tyranny.

Indeed. Dont forget the Falun Gong organ harvesting and the large factories making Meth for global export.

Distorted views would be those based on propaganda and censored/fabricated rubbish fed by those governing you.

Sawing off the branch of the tree you are sitting on...

"This is a brilliant, important and profoundly depressing book. That it is written with Douglas Murray’s usual literary elegance and waspish humor does not make it any less depressing. That Murray will be vilified for it by the liberals who have created the appalling mess he describes does not make it any less brilliant and important ( . . . ) Read it." - Rod Liddle, Sunday Times

Yes, Henry, a tough but essential read. And New Zealand is revving its own beat-up Trekka along the same dangerous track.

Can't be much call for that test, nearly all our useful assets are in foreign hands since the 80s anyhow....unless selling schools and hospitals is on the agenda?

You'll find the land underneath them has been quietly given away to the Iwi, under perpetual lease arrangements. Treaty obligations apparently.

Unfortunately you're right. This came 30 years too late, with the latest being the Port of Napier with 20% plus gone offshare under the share float. Wonder what test there was for that? Oh thats right none. Funny that, when kiwis were cueing up to buy it, yet got the scraps.

Might have something to do with the franchise arrangements these merchant money dealers (banksters) have, which need to be rained in.

Maybe in this instance, someone taking over Fonterra might not be preferrable due to "national" interest and importance to NZ. It would make for a better company but what's left? A failed building company and some foreign owned banks.

How about back tracking to the major banks ownership and decide that the obscene profits, form exorbitant fees and large spreads, that they are siphoning out of the country are harming the NZ economy by allowing foreign ownership of banks, a very important aspect of the economy????????