Lochinver Station sale to fund quarry operations
The sale of Lochinver Station near Taupo to a Chinese company will help free up capital for owners Stevenson Group to develop a huge industrial development in south Auckland.
Engineering, mining and quarrying firm Stevenson Group on Friday signed a deal to sell the 13,800 hectare Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin.
The station, which is valued at more than $70m, is believed to be the second-biggest foreign acquisition of New Zealand land and is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval.
Pengxin also bought the Crafar farms for $200m in December 2012. They are managed by Landcorp.
Lochinver had been owned by the Stevenson Group for more than 50 years but the company’s managing director Mark Franklin said its sale would enable the company to develop a major new project around its large quarry operations in Drury.
‘‘Our core business is not really farming, our core business is quarries and concrete and protecting the quarry routes by doing the Drury south project, and now that we’ve got the private plan change, we’re going to have to start investing.’’
Spanning 220ha, the development will take 15 years and is expected to create more than 8000 jobs. It will include warehouses, factories and other commercial/industrial buildings on the 360ha property.
The project began as a way of providing an industrial buffer around the quarry’s traffic routes but Franklin said he also believed Auckland’s industry would increasingly move south.
‘‘I’d imagine that this is going to be the next generation of growth in Auckland.
‘‘I mean, Pukekohe’s going to be a satellite city of Auckland and that’s going to have another 50,000 people there.
‘‘Waikato is moving up towards Auckland, you’ve got the Pokeno subdivision now. Pokeno is on the other side of the Bombays, so that’s another 5km out from Drury.’’
Franklin said Drury was also attractive as a distribution hub because of its central position within the ‘‘golden triangle’’ of Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga. He had also been fielding calls from people interested in housing developments there.
The project has been approved by a commission of inquiry and is now waiting for local council planning approval.
If ratified, Franklin said the next stage would be to nail down infrastructure agreements with Watercare, councils and roading providers. He hoped the first sod would be turned next year.
He would not put a price on the cost of development but said it would cost ‘‘hundreds of millions of dollars’’.
‘‘Even allowing for the Lochinver Station sale, we’ll need partners to help us with the funding.’’
Franklin said he had no concerns about the station going to foreign investors.
‘‘I actually said to somebody today, what is it that they think Pengxin are going to do, get up and take it back to China? They’re investing in the country, they allow us to invest ... and create 8000 jobs in Drury south. It’s good for the country.’’