Wanaka lifestyle block purchased by Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel, a New Zealand citizen

The now US President Donald Trump meets with Thiel, centre, and Apple chief executive Tim Cook, at Trump Tower in December.
REUTERS

The now US President Donald Trump meets with Thiel, centre, and Apple chief executive Tim Cook, at Trump Tower in December.

Facebook billionaire and Donald Trump donor Peter Thiel has gained New Zealand citizenship and purchased a 193-hectare lifestyle block in Wanaka.

Thiel purchased the property just outside Wanaka through his company Second Star Limited in April 2015 for $13.5 million, according to property records.

A spokeswoman for the Overseas Investment Office said the purchase did not need to follow rules for the sale of sensitive land to foreign buyers as Thiel was a New Zealand citizen.

Peter Thiel co-founded global online payments system PayPal, before becoming an angel investor in Facebook.
BLOOMBERG

Peter Thiel co-founded global online payments system PayPal, before becoming an angel investor in Facebook.

The property in Glendhu Bay was purchased by Second Star, which listed Peter Thiel as the sole shareholder on the Companies Office website.

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Thiel's address is listed on the website as being in San Francisco, California. 

The Department of Internal affairs, which handles applications for citizenship, requires people to have lived in New Zealand for five years, for at least 240 days during each.

Applicants must also speak English and be "of good character", along with already having the right to be in New Zealand indefinitely.

Those who do not meet the requirements may still be granted citizenship in special cases, including if the applicant could provide some advantage, or positive benefit to New Zealand.

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Thiel gained a bachelor of arts and a Juris Doctor (law) degree from Stanford University in the US. 

The now 49-year-old co-founded global online payments system PayPal, before becoming an angel investor in Facebook in 2004.

In 2013, he bought $147 million of shares in NZX-listed technology company Xero.

Last year, it was revealed he had secretly funded ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan's successful lawsuit against gossip website Gawker after it published a sex tape of Hogan. 

Forbes estimated last year that Thiel was worth US$2.7 billion (NZ$3.7b), putting him at number 246 on the Forbes 400 – a list of the US' richest billionaires.

The American business magazine also ranked Thiel at number 73 on its list of most powerful people in 2016.

Thiel, a conservative libertarian, supported Donald Trump's bid for the US presidency and donated $1.25m to Trump's campaign. After Trump's victory, Thiel was appointed to his transition team.

Thiel is not the only high-profile New Zealand citizen working closely with the new American president. 

Kiwi businessman Chris Liddell was last week named as one of Trump's White House assistants.

 - Stuff

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