New Zealand's wealthiest family, the Todds, have bought the cash-strapped Pegasus development just north of Christchurch.
The billionaire family's property development arm, Todd Property Group, has bought the unsold land, golf course, and community areas of the partly developed North Canterbury town and hopes to complete the project by 2015.
Developer Pegasus Town Ltd, founded and part-owned by Wanaka's Bob Robertson, was placed in receivership in August after defaulting on payments for a $142 million loan.
The purchase price is being kept secret but is understood to be considerably less than the outstanding debt.
An anonymous source close to the deal said it was good news for the town, and for the staff of Pegasus Town Ltd who would be re-employed under a new entity which would "pick it up and carry it on".
Todd Property Group managing director Evan Davies said they expected to complete the full development.
He said the project was "highly attractive" and he expected strong demand for new homes. "Pegasus is one of the most appealing residential developments in the country and we think people will be proud to call it home."
Company spokesman Conor Roberts confirmed the commercial area and remaining sections would be built, but could not say whether any plans for the town would change.
To date, about 950 sections out of 1700 planned for Pegasus have been developed, and about 800 sold.
Infrastructure and amenities including the golf course, 14-hectare lake, store and cafe are completed but residents are still waiting for other amenities such as a town centre, sports facilities, and a primary school.
The town has been designed for a population of up to 7000 and now has about 600 residents in over 300 completed homes, with several dozen more due to be finished by Christmas.
Resident James Gardner was pleased to hear the news of the sale, and said there had been rumours about buyers since the receivership.
"People will be happy that the Todds have got it, and that it's a New Zealand company taking over. People weren't panicking about what would happen; they hoped someone reasonable would come in," Gardner said.
In the past few weeks construction and marketing of sections had been ramped up by the receivers who took control of Pegasus on behalf of creditors NZ Property Finance Partners, a consortium of Australian property giant Brookfield and investment banker Goldman Sachs.
Robertson had been hoping to re- finance the debt but had run out of time.
The Todd family is estimated to be worth $2.7 billion. Their assets are mainly in the energy sector but they have a growing residential property development business specialising in master-planned communities, which until now had sites only in the North Island.
- © Fairfax NZ News