Chinese investors poised to help rebuild our city
A large wave of Chinese investment is headed for Christchurch, as billion-dollar entities do deals with locals to be part of the rebuild.
A townhouse development in Fendalton and bulk-scale modular housing are just two of the projects attracting Chinese investors and many more look likely as the investors visit the city scouting opportunities.
The Fendalton consortium is linked to former mayor Sir Bob Parker, who last week addressed a delegation of investors from Sichuan province in Christchurch. Both Parker and Prime Minister John Key have courted rebuild investment while visiting China.
Construction boss Mike Doig of Ganellen said "big entities" from China were "sniffing around" Christchurch looking for opportunities.
Ganellen is seeking sources of modular housing and is dealing with a Chinese company keen to come in as a property developer and another wanting to invest money. One has an annual turnover of almost $50 billion.
Much of the Chinese investment so far has been residential, though foreign investment in the central city, including the anchor rebuild projects, has attracted attention.
Beijing-based company Huadu Construction has joined the rebuild by forming a new company, Huaxin International, with local partners Bert Govan, a property developer, and John Fairhall, a luxury car dealer.
After meeting Parker in China last year, Huadu has paid $4 million for a half-hectare, tree-studded Glandovey Rd site, drawing up plans to build 14 homes on the property. The sale did not need Overseas Investment Office approval.
Parker was overseas and could not be reached for comment and Govan was not ready to give details of the project. But he said New Zealand "was on the radar" for a lot of Chinese investors and a local connection was vital for their success.
Project manager Arrow International is considering widening an existing rebuild joint venture with China State Construction Engineering Corp, China's biggest building company which turns over $100b a year.
Chinese investment has become a hot election year topic with big farmland purchases in the North Island.
Few involved in the Chinese visits to Christchurch wanted to talk to The Press about foreign investment.
They included the Canterbury Development Corporation, which has an economic relations manager for Asia.
Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) director Warwick Isaacs confirmed the unit addressed delegates on investment opportunities but would not say whether those included the anchor projects.
Warwick said encouraging rebuild investment was an important part of the unit's role.
The Sichuan delegation included both government and private parties and met the CCDU, the Chinese consul-general and Parker.
The delegates visited the same week as the multi-billion dollar Guandong-based company China Merchants Investment Company, majority owned by the Chinese government.
Both China Merchants and the Sichuan investors are expected to return to Christchurch for a second look.