A German property investor who specialises in selling islands has bought part of New Zealand's parliamentary complex.
Hamburg-based Farhad Vladi has bought Bowen House, the building on the corner of Lambton Quay where NZ First, the Greens and the Maori Party have their offices, for $62 million.
The 22-storey block, which is linked to the Beehive by an underground travelator, also houses the Speaker's apartment, select committee rooms, the Office of the Clerk, Parliamentary Service and Ministerial Services staff.
Under a deal signed yesterday, Mr Vladi bought the building from AMP Capital.
Colliers International agent Bill Leckie, who brokered the off-market sale, said it was a unique property. Bowen House was designed by Warren and Mahoney and built in 1990.
For several years, while the old Parliament Buildings were being strengthened, it housed the debating chamber. The value of the sale meant it did not require approval from the Overseas Investment Office.
Murray Horton, secretary of the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa, said it was ironic that a property so close to the heart of Parliament and government was owned by a foreigner.
NZ First leader Winston Peters said: "What sort of country lets a gilt-edged building, where the tenant is the taxpayer, go into foreign hands. It's incredible that we can be so stupid."
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei was unconcerned by the change of ownership, saying it had been in private hands for years.
"It's not a publicly owned building that's going from public ownership into private ownership."
A spokeswoman for Labour leader David Shearer said he was not particularly concerned. "Our concern is selling land to foreigners."
No comment was available from Prime Minister John Key.
WHO IS FARHAD VLADI?
Born in Hamburg in 1945. His Iranian father migrated to Germany in 1940.
Founded Vladi Private Islands in 1975 with offices in Hamburg, Wellington, Novia Scotia (he has Canadian citizenship) and Shanghai.
Reported to be the biggest international island broker, he has been involved in the sale of more than 2000 islands. His company also manages more than 1000 island properties across the globe.
Clients have included film stars Johnny Depp, who bought an island in the Bahamas and Nicolas Cage.
Mr Vladi owns property in the Marlborough Sounds, including a share in Forsyth Island in Pelorus Sound.
His commercial property portfolio includes the heritage-listed Old Bank Shopping Arcade in Lambton Quay, the old AMP building in Customhouse Quay, the Joan Stevens halls of residence (a converted office block in The Terrace) and Fonterra House in Auckland.
He led European syndicates that own NEC House on the corner of Taranaki and Manners streets and land under the Thorndon New World supermarket.
- The Dominion Post