Australian billionaire buys lakefront property at Queenstown, price secret

A property at Walter Peak, Queenstown, has been sold to an overseas buyer who says he plans to become a New Zealand resident.
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A property at Walter Peak, Queenstown, has been sold to an overseas buyer who says he plans to become a New Zealand resident.

One of Australia's wealthiest businessmen has purchased a lakefront property at Queenstown's Walter Peak for a secret price.

Tim Roberts is part of a West Australian family that set up and sold construction firm Multiplex, and has estimated wealth of about $2 billion.

He is no stranger to Queenstown where he already owns property and has visited many times to enjoy ironman events, marathons, heli skiing, mountain biking and flying his private jet and helicopter.

About 15 per cent of Queenstown property is overseas owned, with Australians making up half that amount.
SUPPLIED

About 15 per cent of Queenstown property is overseas owned, with Australians making up half that amount.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) gave approval for Roberts and his company, 100WPS, to buy 39 hectares of freehold land with Lake Wakatipu frontage, ripe for development. 

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The OIO allowed Roberts or the sellers to keep the price under wraps, citing section 9 of the Official Information Act.

The section refers to protecting privacy or when the information would disclose a trade secret or prejudice a commercial position.

Roberts was not required to comply with any special conditions such as public access to waterways, or to demonstrate how his investment in sensitive land would benefit New Zealand.

"Overseas persons intending to reside in New Zealand indefinitely are not required to show that their investment in sensitive land is likely to benefit New Zealand," the OIO said.

"This is because the ownership of that land will assist new migrants to settle in New Zealand and the benefits of the proposed migration will be considered under immigration legislation."

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A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which deals with immigration issues, said it was unclear what the OIO meant. The OIO said it would review the explanation and clarify it.

An OIO decision from February 2017 shows Roberts bought a 12ha property in Malaghans Rd, Queenstown, for $4.2 million from businessman Don Fletcher.

In that decision, the OIO also said Roberts intended to become a resident of New Zealand.

The 39ha he has just acquired was sold by Walter Peak Corporate Trustee, whose shareholders and directors are registered in the Companies Office as Alexandra lawyer John Williamson and Invercargill lawyer Rex Chapman. 

They front for the beneficial owners of Walter Peak Corporate Trustee, Israeli billionaires Morris Khan, Shmuel Meitar, and David Khan.

Different parcels of land have been divided from Walter Peak Station over the years.

Tourism company Real Journeys also owns some land nearby, which is used for tours.

The property was bought by American developer Rod Neilsen in 2006 for $10m and he obtained consents for an expensive subdivision. 

But the plan failed, Neilsen was bankrupted, and the Israeli owners repurchased the property at a mortgagee auction. 

Roberts is reportedly an investor in numerous companies, although appears to only have a handful of companies in New Zealand to hold his Queenstown interests.

Roberts has an interest in Halfway Bay, a neighbouring property of Walter Peak, according to Companies Office records.

An Australian media report two years ago described a lawsuit over his dissatisfaction with the performance of a $30m boat, and his subsequent purchase of a more expensive one. 

Tim Roberts' father, John, established Australian construction company Multiplex in 1962, with Tim serving as an executive director for five years until 2007 when his father died and the family sold out to Brookfield Asset Management for nearly $2b.

 - Stuff

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