Global investors eye rebuild options

The Christchurch rebuild is attracting "huge" overseas investment interest, says rebuild boss Warwick Isaacs but he is not aware of any deal being nailed down.

Isaacs, head of the Central City Development Unit, a unit within the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said yesterday that strong interest was coming from Australia, China, some from the Middle East, and also from the United States.

Some parties were interested in building factories and industry but others in commercial and retail buildings and block developments in the central city.

Also the major trading banks, Australian owned, were supporting local investors with debt finance and in some cases offering or sourcing equity finance for others.

Overseas investors had owned buildings in the city before the earthquakes such as the Clarendon Tower, Rydges Hotel and the Grant Thornton Building and "there's a whole bunch more".

Some of them were residents here and had indicated they wanted to reinvest.

"As far as international investment coming in, there's huge interest but there's nothing I'm aware of that's actually landed in sense of a tangible development, being done by someone from overseas at this stage."

Isaacs said he could name overseas organisations or entities that were interested in investing here. "We would leave it to them once they have landed the deals they are trying to do."

Isaacs said overseas investor interest was "much, much wider" than just the anchor projects.

"At the end of the day the anchor projects are only there to catalyse the private sector."

On a live chat on The Press website Isaacs was asked why not tell the people of Christchurch who were the five consortiums shortlisted to develop the Convention Centre and he said it was unfair to those that would miss out.

Asked what was unfair about it being known they missed out, Isaacs said it had the potential to impact on their future business.

The Press has approached some parties who are and may be bidding to develop the Christchurch Convention Centre and they say CCDU requires confidentiality.

Isaacs said the companies' normal business rules were that companies did not talk about work they were bidding for.

"As well we will have given them certain confidential information if they are bidding on things that they will not be able to talk about because that's part of the bidding process."

Project management company Opus and British design company BDP are the lead consultants on the Avon River project. Opus told the The Press it could not give progress updates on the project.

Isaacs said CCDU was the client and it was up to it to make comments on that project.

"It's not about secrecy at all, it's just about who is appropriate to make the comments," Isaacs said.

He said Cera or CCDU would provide information and progress updates where it could. But at the moment they were at the stage of getting designs done and that took time, particularly for large projects.

"I think it is the norm in the business community that if you work for folk you don't talk about the jobs you are doing, it's just that there is so much going on at once."

Asked about the progress on the Convention Centre, Isaacs said: "I would have thought we are less than six months away from being in the position when we will know what is going to be happening. It is still going to take some time. And it might not be six months. I'd rather a broader timeframe. If it's earlier, that's great."