Increase to overseas investment threshold for Australian investments in significant business assets

23 March 2021

Australian investors currently have the benefit of an exemption from the requirement for Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consent if they are investing in significant business assets in New Zealand, and the value of the transaction is below certain thresholds.

These thresholds may be adjusted each year according to formulae set out in the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005 (the Regulations). From 1 January to 31 December 2021, Australian investors will benefit from increased thresholds under the Regulations.

The OIO has notified that, from 1 January to 31 December 2021, the thresholds will be:

  • NZ$552 million (previously NZ$537 million), if the investor is an Australian non-government investor, and
  • NZ$116 million (previously NZ$113 million), if the investor is an Australian government investor.

The threshold for Australian non-government investors is higher than the NZ$200 million threshold that applies to certain investors from the 10 other Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership member nations and from certain other nations with which New Zealand has "most favoured nation" obligations under existing trade agreements, such as the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong.

The higher threshold for Australian non-government investors is likely to provide them with a competitive advantage in sale situations where the Australian investor can put in a bid that is not conditional on OIO consent.

The definition of non-government investor is complex, and some transaction structures can render the investor ineligible for the higher threshold. Overseas investment in sensitive land still requires OIO consent, regardless of the value of the transaction, unless the investor can rely on an exemption.

If you have any questions about the increased thresholds, or any of the matters in this article, please get in touch with the contacts listed or your usual Bell Gully advisor.​

Disclaimer: This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.