Bri­tish lord quits NZ

Rich-list mu­sic en­trepreneur has sold up and dropped plans for ex­pand­ing his busi­ness here

Weekend Herald - - Front Page - Anne Gibson

One of Bri­tain’s rich­est men has dropped plans to re­de­velop a Wai­heke Is­land re­treat, and quit New Zealand.

James Palumbo, or Lord Palumbo of South­wark, won Over­seas In­vest­ment Of­fice con­sent to trans­form an $8 mil­lion wa­ter­front farm into a ma­jor mu­sic artist’s re­treat, with plans to ex­pand his suc­cess­ful busi­ness into New Zealand.

But three years later, the Min­istry of Sound founder has sold.

Ol­lie Wall of Gra­ham Wall Real Estate said the prop­erty had changed hands from the up­per-crust Brit to new Kiwi own­ers.

“I sold the Palumbo prop­erty the last time. All I can say is it was to a lovely, down-to-earth Kiwi fam­ily,” Wall said.

Palumbo’s lawyer in New Zealand said there were good rea­sons for the sale.

Graeme Todd of law firm Todd & Walker in Franklin told the Week­end Her­ald: “Given a change in Lord Palumbo’s per­sonal cir­cum­stances he dis­posed of the prop­erty. This was be­fore all of the con­di­tions of the OIO con­sent were fully im­ple­mented.”

Todd would not dis­close the change of cir­cum­stance.

Palumbo launched Min­istry of Sound with a school friend in 1991. The house mu­sic party busi­ness ex­panded into pub­lish­ing, mer­chan­dise and recorded mu­sic. It is the world’s largest in­de­pen­dent mu­sic com­pany with more than 70 mil­lion al­bum sales. Palumbo sold it to Sony in 2016 for more than $100m.

The 54-year-old ap­plied in 2015 to buy the Wai­heke prop­erty over­look­ing golden Omaru Bay, near the Te Matuku Bay Scenic Re­serve.

Un­der the Over­seas In­vest­ment Act, Palumbo wasn’t au­to­mat­i­cally al­lowed to buy the bush-clad 26ha wa­ter­front hold­ing be­cause he’s a Brit and the beau­ti­ful farm is clas­si­fied sen­si­tive un­der the law, be­ing ru­ral and wa­ter­front.

Non-res­i­dents and non-New Zealand cit­i­zens are barred from buy­ing with­out go­ing through the OIO ap­pli­ca­tion process which re­quires a set of con­di­tions to be met.

To be al­lowed to buy, Palumbo cited a list of ben­e­fits to New Zealand in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment and do­ing the place up.

In 2015 con­sent was sought for James Ru­dolph Baron Palumbo of South­wark to buy 26.9954ha on Orapiu Rd.

“The ap­pli­cant plans to ac­quire the land for the pur­pose of de­vel­op­ing an artist’s re­treat for mu­si­cians. As part of the devel­op­ment the ap­pli­cant also in­tends to re­store and en­hance the indige­nous veg­e­ta­tion on the land,” the ap­proval said.

Palumbo told the state agency he would es­tab­lish jobs, make ad­di­tional in­vest­ment for devel­op­ment pur­poses, re­store and en­hance indige­nous veg­e­ta­tion and of­fer to sell seabed/fore­shore to the Crown. The Week­end

Her­ald un­der­stands that this was Palumbo’s gen­uine in­ten­tion at the time.

Mur­ray Hor­ton of the Cam­paign Against For­eign Con­trol of Aotearoa said the law was too slack. He said the

Times in Bri­tain had re­ported rich Brits buy­ing “bolt holes” in New Zealand and that con­cerned him.

Gra­ham Wall was quoted in the

Times as say­ing: “Amer­i­cans sort of see it as Cal­i­for­nia in the 1960s, a care­free place where the rules still ap­ply, where there is no cor­rup­tion and not too much nepo­tism so the chances of suc­ceed­ing are great.”

The Gov­ern­ment has promised to tighten the laws, via the Over­seas In­vest­ment Amend­ment Act which had its first read­ing in the House be­fore Christ­mas. OIO data shows ap­proval num­bers dropped from 23 be­tween Jan­uary and March last year to 13 in the first three months of this year. Net in­vest­ment also fell from $1.3 bil­lion last year to $493m this year.

The Wai­heke prop­erty boasts two beaches, two qual­ity homes, a boat shed and shear­ers’ shed.

A QV spokesman said: “609 Orapiu Rd sold for $7.5m in June last year. It com­prises 25.5557ha and has two dwellings and a col­lec­tion of other build­ings. The 2017 rat­ing val­u­a­tion is $8m and the land is as­sessed at $7.2m.”

Palumbo is the el­dest son of prop­erty de­vel­oper Peter Palumbo but the pair are es­tranged. He was 336th in the 2017 Sun­day Times Rich List with an es­ti­mated £350m ($670m) for­tune, and has pub­lished two nov­els.

Photo / Getty Im­ages

Lord Palumbo of South­wark bought an $8m wa­ter­front farm at Omaru Bay (above) on Wai­heke Is­land last year with the in­ten­tion of de­vel­op­ing a mu­sic artists’ re­treat.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.