In a decision initially almost completely suppressed, Moffat Ltd, controlled by the Sullivan family of the U.S.A., gains approval to acquire APV Moffat Ltd of Wellington, which was owned by APV Plc of the U.K. for "$10 to $15 million". "The acquisition is part of a worldwide acquisition by Kenmare of APV Plcs retail bakery and catering equipment business." Moffat Ltd is a subsidiary of Kenmare which is controlled by the Sullivan family. APVs activities are the "design, manufacture and sale of specialised process plant and equipment, principally for the food and beverage industries", according to UK Equities Direct (World Wide Web http://www.worldserver.pipex.com/hemscott/equities/company/cd00051.htm). Its trade names include Anderson, Crepaco, and Douglas packaging machinery ("Kompass New Zealand", 1995). It is represented in Aotearoa by APV Baker NZ Limited (Auckland) and APV Moffat Ltd (Christchurch). The decision was released on appeal to the OIC in May 1996.
EnviroWaste Services Ltd which last month was formed by the Auckland Regional Services Trust and Fulton Hogan Ltd to become a major force in rubbish services in Auckland and the South Island, has reshuffled its control of the Dunedin Landfill Site. Former Fulton Hogan subsidiary Tartan Industries Ltd was given to EnviroWaste last month as part of the setup of the company.It has been sold the 79 hectare Landfill for $5,000 by EnviroWaste, which then leased it back for 20 years for $20.
EnviroWaste is 50% owned by Northern Disposal Systems Ltd (an Auckland Regional Services Trust company) and 50% by Fulton Hogan. Fulton Hogan itself is 36.94% owned by Shell New Zealand Holdings Ltd of the U.K.
Sale of Auckland Regent Hotel to Indonesians approved
Approval has been given for the Regent Hotel in Auckland to be sold to Cogent Investments Ltd, a subsidiary of Perfect Match Investments Ltd of Hong Kong, which in turn is owned by two (unnamed) Indonesian residents. The same interests "have substantial interests in the hotel industry including the Centra Hotel in Auckland". The Regent was owned by the "Togen group" which is ultimately owned by Eastern Prime Line Ltd (the Liu family) of Hong Kong. They say they have been actively seeking to sell the hotel, which "urgently" requires further development and maintenance, for some time. Perfect Match "is committed to providing expertise and future funds to enable the Regent Hotel to reach its potential". The price was suppressed.
However, press reports gave the buyer as the Hai Sun Hup Group of Singapore, and the price $80 million. The hotel was built in 1985 for about $60 million. It has 332 rooms and is rated five-star. (Press, Singaporean group buys Regent Hotel, 24/1/96, p.45.) In January 1996, this was confirmed when the OIC gave approval for the hotel to be sold to the Hai Sun Hup Group Ltd, a Singaporean public company, for $80 million. They say they have been actively seeking to sell the hotel for some time.
In February 1990, Perfect Match Investments Ltd was given consent to acquire the remaining 5% it didnt own in Winstone Pulp International Ltd which operates the Karioi Pulp Mill (in partnership with Samsung of South Korea) and owns the Waimarino Forest. It paid $12 million for cutting rights to Crown forests in 1990. In January 1991 Winstone Pulp received consent to acquire the Karioi Crown Forest cutting rights and assets (after having pulped it for some time). In August 1993, CHH sold the Tangiwai sawmill to Winstone Pulp.
In October 1991, the Queen City Centre complex on Albert and Elliott Streets in central Auckland was sold by Chase Securities Investments Ltd (under statutory management) to Colwall Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of Perfect Match Investments Ltd for a suppressed amount.
Togen are 45% shareholders of Wenita Holdings (NZ) Ltd, a major buyer of Crown forest licences and land for forestry particularly in Otago and Southland. Another 45% of Wenita is owned by a Chinese Government Corporation, China National Foreign Trade Transportation Corporation. 10% is held by Chen Wen Dong of Hong Kong.
Mainzeal Group Ltd, which is 50.95% owned by Richina Enterprise Holdings Ltd of China is trying to wrest full control of its partly owned subsidiary Mair Astley Holdings Ltd (50.27% owned by Mainzeal subsidiary Ipoh Holdings Ltd). The OIC has given its consent for Mainzeal to buy 100% of Mair, for a price of $36,957,904. The ownership would be through Eddystone Investments Ltd, a wholly owned Mainzeal subsidiary.
The deal was not welcomed by minority shareholders and at time of writing (January 1996) had not been accepted. An Auckland lawyer, Peter Cockle, who owns 66,000 shares in Mair which he bought at $1.80 each, considered the offer of 72 cents a share undervalued the company. He suggested to the independent directors that Mainzeal and Richina were privy to in-depth reports, including forecast benefits from a proposed Shanghai tannery. However an independent director said that their advisors, C S First Boston, had access to all information available to Mainzeal and valued the shares between 80 and 95 cents.
Mainzeal has organised a joint venture tannery in Shanghai with Shanghai Leather Corporation. This has been held up by the dispute.
Mainzeal, primarily a construction and property development company, is rapidly developing as a minor conglomerate including trying for project management contracts for power generation and water supply in Indonesia, and the development of a $90 million 330-room hotel in central Auckland. Richina says its objective in investing Mainzeal was to build it and Mair Astley domestically so that they were "financially strong, world-class companies able to operate successfully in the international arena". (Press, "Confident Mainzeal hope to pay div", 15/11/95, p.33; "Mair rejects advice appeal", 5/1/96/ p.16.) The company has a 50% interest in 39 hectares of leased land in Canterbury.
We reported in April 1995 that Richina had taken control of Mainzeal. Reportedly Beijing-based, it is a Chinese/U.S. consortium which bought its controlling interest at 28 cents a share accompanied by concern from some observers who feared unethical tactics. Though bought in March, it did not receive OIC approval until after the event. The consortium at the time comprised "from time to time", Richina Enterprise Holdings Ltd, which is ultimately owned by Richina Equity Trust I of China, Anaconda Partners, L.P., which is ultimately owned by Junction Advisors Incorporated of the U.S.A., Chemical Asian Equity Associates L.P., which is a limited partnership of which Chemical Banking Corporation of the U.S.A. is a partner, a number of U.S. individuals and investment partnerships, and three locals. See our analyses of April 1995 and December 1994 decisions for details.
Utilicorp United Inc, from the U.S.A., which already owns 33.3% of Waikatos electric power supply company WEL Energy Group Ltd, has consent to acquire a further 15.7% "by standing in the market or private purchases from time to time". According to the OIC, it granted consent to WEL issuing shares to Utilicorp equating to 49% of its issued share capital, in August 1992. That decision was never been released to us: the only relevant August 1992 releases were approvals given to WEL Energy Ltd, a subsidiary of the Waikato Electricity Authority firstly to issue 960 $1 ordinary shares at a premium of $77,749 to Utilicorp United Inc or its subsidiaries and then a revision, to issue shares up to 33.33% of WEL to Utilicorp. We queried this discrepancy with the OIC who replied:
Which doesnt make a great deal more sense, and puts in doubt the accuracy of the information the Commission releases.
In two decisions initially almost completely suppressed, the Woodhead Family, all of whom except one are resident in Australia, are selling two blocks of land at Karikari, Northland to companies owned by PHII Inc of the U.S.A. In one, "approximately" 50 hectares is being sold for $617,400 for residential subdivision to a PHII subsidiary, Montanari Holdings Ltd. In the other, "approximately" 1,061 hectares of arable land used for beef farming is being sold to Wintree Properties Ltd which is owned by Nasella Holdings Ltd (not a well chosen name!) as trustee for "members of" PHII. In both cases it is stated that the Woodhead family "have been endeavouring to sell the property since the mid 1970s [the] land is clearly rundown and for the last ten years it has not been maintained or used in a productive manner." PHII "has considerable expertise and experience in the property development field and this will be used to determine and subsequently develop the [50 hectare] subdivision." PHII also proposes to "undertake a comprehensive programme to return the [1,061 hectare block of] land to optimum condition." This includes improving 200 hectares of existing pasture, converting a further 200 hectares from scrub to pasture, and establishing forestry on the steeper land. "It is also in the longer term proposed to investigate developing part of the property into a tourist related venture." The decisions were released on appeal to the OIC in May 1996.
Sales organised by Deborah Miller of Brookfields, Auckland this month include two more for forestry development at Paparangi, Wanganui, two more near Palmerston, Otago, and one in Waiuku for "lifestyle" purposes, all to Taiwanese:
Wharekauhau Lodge and Farm in the Wairarapa is being sold to four residents of the U.S.A. in order to "create one of the best and most exclusive lodges in the world". The lodge includes 931 hectares of land. The current owners, W. and A. Shaw, are retaining a 10% interest in the property and will "have an ongoing involvement in the development and management of the property".
The new owner is Wharekauhau Holdings Ltd (WHL). Initially this was owned 24.9% by J. Davidson, 24.9% by A. Miller, 24.9% by M. Baybak, 15.3% by J. Sevo (all of the U.S.A.) and 10% by the Shaws. However in March 1996 this approval was amended to change the shareholding to include in addition Sir R. Douglas (Aotearoa), Lord R. Mogg (U.K.) and J. Blanchard III (U.S.A.). With that change, the shareholding is 24.6% by J. Davidson, 12.3% by A. Miller, 20.2% by M. Baybak, 12.3% by J. Sevo (all of the U.S.A.), 12% by the Shaws, 13.2% by J. Blanchard III, 4.4% by Lord R. Mogg, and 1% by Sir R. Douglas.
They are paying $4,800,000 for the property through the company Wharekauhau Station Ltd.
Sir Roger needs no introduction. Lord William Rees-Mogg is the former chief leader writer and editor of The Financial Times, city editor and deputy editor of The Sunday Times, and editor of The Times (1967-81), "by which time he had become an accepted establishment figure, on the boards of several companies", according to the Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia (1994, Cambridge University Press, http://www.intbuscom.com/ibc/about.html). A former Vice-Chairman of the BBC, in 1988 he became head of the new, controversial, Broadcasting Standards Council. He is an author, business commentator and "advisor to some of the world's wealthiest investors". His business interests include being Chairman of International Business Communications Group PLC (business publishers, conference organisers etc), and Pickering & Chatto (Publishers) Limited, and a Director of The General Electric Company Plc, and St. James Place Capital Plc ( http://www.intbuscom.com/annual/directorreport.html). As the Encyclopaedia states, he is very much a central establishment figure in the British hierarchy. He is a favourite subject of conspiracy theorists. His government and business connections are likely to have brought him into contact with Douglas.
He has co-authored with one James D. Davidson two books on investment: "Blood in the Streets" by James Dale Davidson and Sir William Rees-Mogg, (New York: Warner Books, 1987), and "The Great Reckoning", revised and updated edition, by James Dale Davidson and Sir William Rees-Mogg, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993). The first takes its name from the advice given by Baron Nathan Rothschild in 1815: "the time to buy is when blood is running in the streets". The second predicts a major depression before the end of the century and advises investors how to prepare for it.
The two also edit and publish Strategic Investment, an investment newsletter described by Chapman Tripp Sheffield Young (CTSY, the shareholders solicitors) to the OIC as "the largest circulation (135,000 per month Wall Street newsletter". Significantly, it "has been heavily promoting investment in New Zealand", so they are no novices where Aotearoa is concerned. Davidson has written for the Wall Street Journal and numerous other U.S. publications, and is a principal of Strategic Advisors Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland.
The New Zealand Companies Office identifies the OICs J. Davidson as James D. Davidson of Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A.. The OIC files confirm this as Rees-Moggs associate, James Dale Davidson. Davidson is not simply an investment advisor: he is also a political activist after Roger Douglass heart, and as we have seen, with a standing interest in investment in Aotearoa. He is the chairman of the National Taxpayers Union (compare ACT), which he founded in 1969. It claims 250,000 members, with a budget of $3.5 million, and 20 staff at its headquarters in Washington DC ("Encyclopedia of Associations", 31st Edition, 1996, Part 2, p.2304.) "The National Taxpayers Union [is] a public interest advocacy organization dedicated to eliminating wasteful government spending and working to reduce taxes and balance the federal budget" (http://www.foe.org/orgs/FOE/scissors95/greenpart31.html).
One of the more fascinating sites on the Internet is "microstates.com", which has a section, http://microstate.com/bermuda/intexecs.htm, devoted to Bermuda. There (presumably to attract others to the country), it lists some of the prominent businessmen who use Bermuda to avoid their taxes. It lists such names as Silvio Berlusconi, former far-right Italian Prime Minister, currently engaged in a drawn-out corruption trial ("an Italian media magnate, he was named in the Forbes Magazine billionaires list as being worth more than $2 billion. He owns the large, white home known as Blue Horizons in Tuckers Town, St. Georges Parish, near the home of former US presidential candidate Ross Perot. Signor Berlusconi regularly flies into Bermuda via a private jet aircraft, with his son Piersilvio and daughter Marina. He was the Italian Prime Minister a few years ago and in 1996 made an unsuccessful political bid to become so again. Like his immediate neighbours, the Perots, he has a passion for privacy."); Jack Carter, son of former US President Jimmy Carter ("his parents visited him in Bermuda for a week in mid October, 1995"); Ross Perot; George Soros; a raft of U.S. and British billionaires and millionaires (and one Australian); and James Dale Davidson:
Evidence for his (and Rees-Moggs) Bermuda activities comes in the shareholding of Wharekauhau Holdings Ltd: one of its shareholders is New Paradigm Capital Ltd of Hamilton, Bermuda. According to CTSY, this is a "Bermuda merchant bank" owned jointly by Davidson and Rees-Mogg "and a Jersey Island based trust" (Jersey is another tax haven). Presumably such tax avoidance is Davidsons way of putting his anti-tax political views into action.
However Davidsons activities move from just right-wing straight into conspiracy theory in an escapade in 1995. Its a long story, but the apparent suicide of Vince Foster, a bit player in the Clintons Whitewater scandal, led to marginally credible theories that he was actually an NSA operative and a spy for Israel with million-dollar Swiss bank accounts, and was murdered after the CIA got on to him. Davidson dived in to the controversy by financing an examination of Fosters suicide note by three forensic handwriting experts, which, they said, was a forgery (http://www.en.com/users/bthomas/cs/foster/forg.txt: "An Independent Forensic Examination Of a Torn Note Allegedly Written by Vincent W. Foster, Jr.", Prepared for Strategic Investment, James Dale Davidson, Editor, 25 October 1995). One suspicion was that Davidson was fanning the flames to help undermine Clinton.
A connection with our next character, James Ulysses Blanchard III, is that a writer for Strategic Investment is Jack Wheeler, of whom more below.
J. Blanchard III is, according to the New Zealand Companies Office record, James Ulysses Blanchard III. James Ulysses Blanchard III (where else but in the U.S.A. would parents call their children such names and where else would the children use them!) is publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Gold Newsletter, Los Angeles, U.S.A. He writes business commentaries and advice on gold and silver investments possibly a connection with Mogg (example: "Own a Masterpiece of the Old West in Pure Silver! An Exclusive Offer ingenious bonus strategy weve developed that will have the U.S. Treasury refund you the entire purchase price of this historic acquisition ...": ref http://www.shopsite.com/libmint/images/oldwest.html). However that is not his most interesting side.
The following comes from Africa News On-Line, 29/1/96 (http://www.newsnet.com/libiss/it15.html) and was originally published in Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg), 19/1/96, as "Mozambique: US Millionaire Plans Indian Ocean Dreampark", by Eddie Koch. It is more than a little astounding.
The New York Times (22/5/88, "Right-Wing U.S. Coalition Aiding Mozambican Rebels", p.14) reported that
The same article reported that the State Department had issued a report the previous month
Renamo was heavily supported by the South African apartheid government. It was a terrorist group in the truest sense of the word.
Also mentioned in the same New York Times article is Jack Wheeler, director of the "Freedom Research Foundation" in La Jolla, California, and a writer for Davidsons Strategic Investment. He is said to consider himself one of the fathers of the "Reagan Doctrine" which amounted to supporting anyone who opposed any friend of the Soviet Union. He
Blanchard is a supporter of the extreme right Libertarians in the U.S.A. He was on the campaign committee of the Libertarian Partys U.S. Presidential candidate in 1996, Harry Browne (listed on the now disbanded but archived web site http://www.harrybrowne96.org/campaign_committee.html). He is also an "advisor" to the Washington-based "Free Africa Foundation" (http://www.webperfect.com/afrinet/orgs/faf.html):
The New Zealand Companies Office identifies M. Baybak as Michael Baybak of La Canada, California, U.S.A. He appears to own his shares through Star Financial Ltd of Hamilton, Bermuda. There are only two Baybaks in the entire on-line telephone directories of the U.S.A.: Michael Baybak of Clearwater, Florida; and Michael Baybak of La Canada, California. Standard and Poors Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives 1995 (Volume 1, p.205) lists a Michael Baybak as Chairman of Athena Gold Corporation of Reno, Nevada (famed for casinos and quick divorces, just across the border from California). This is where things get interesting.
In its 6/5/91 issue, Time published a story (p.46 of the Pacific edition) entitled "Mining Money in Vancouver", by Richard Behar, highly critical of a California businessman, Michael Baybak and his business practices (http://www.webzonecom.com/ccn/cults/scien-04.txt). Unsurprisingly, this item led to Baybak suing Time. The out-of-court settlement was scarcely a victory for him. It was resolved by Time agreeing to publish a brief statement which appeared in the 11/11/96 edition of Time (p.8 of the South Pacific edition). Its crucial sentence said "Times report on Mr. Baybak, a member of the Church, was not intended to suggest that Mr. Baybak was a front for the Church of Scientology or that his actions were in violation of any law or regulation". Time would not comment as to whether any money changed hands, but said it was "very happy with the settlement". (Ref: http://wpxx02.toxi.uni-wuerzburg.de/~krasel/CoS/ars1/ars1_28.html.)
George Cross News Letter, Vancouver, no.193 (1996), 30/10/95, in reference to Minefinders Corporation Ltd, reports: "Minefinders has engaged National Media Associates (NMA), of Los Angeles, California, to provide investor relations services for an initial term of one year, effective immediately. Under this agreement, NMA, a company controlled by Michael Baybak, will be paid a fee of US$5,000 per month plus approved disbursements." (http://www.minefinders.com/profile/gcnloc30.html.)
In its Insider Trading Report for the period ending 24/5/96, the British Columbia Securities Commission included trading by a Michael Baybak with regard to International Avino Mines Ltd on 23/5/96 (http://18.104.22.168/financial/vse/sob/insider/960524i.html).
A Michael Baybak also appears on the Finance Committee of the Committee for the Nomination of Harry Browne as the Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. President in 1996 (the now disbanded but archived web site http://www.harrybrowne96.org/finance_committee.html).
Both this and the gold interests (if all these Michael Baybaks are the same person) make a connection with Blanchard plausible.
Intriguingly, in the files the OIC released to CAFCA almost all details relating to Wharekauhau shareholder Michael Baybak have been blacked out. He may of course be an entirely different person from the above, but his penchant for secrecy is interesting.
Again, according to the New Zealand Companies Office, A. Miller is Andrew Scott Miller of Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., whose shareholding is via Wharekauhau Ltd of the same Colorado address. Miller is an active participant in this deal. For example, he acted as trustee for the purchasing companies before they were formally formed. The OIC file names Sevo as John Sevo. Judging by the shareholdings, Sevo and Miller jointly own the Colorado company Wharekauhau Ltd. According to the OIC file, the two "own and operate the largest real estate firm in Denver Colorado, Sevo Miller Inc. The business owns and operates 15,000 apartments and 38 shopping centres across America."
This may be only the beginning for the above investors. The OIC file notes that
These contacts will be useful for the lodges business. In June 1996 when the lodge expanded by a further 563 hectares (see the OIC decisions for that month), the reason for the new developments was said to be to provide "an exclusive retreat for diplomats and visiting heads of Government; a corporate retreat/conference centre for the Southern North Island; a high class tourist facility."
A controversial golf course development proposed by Japanese interests for the Groynes, Coutts Island, outside Christchurch has run into "some financing difficulties" and its financiers are taking over the company, New Zealand Plan International Ltd. The company was owned 50% by the Hirai family of Japan, and 50% by M. Ishizuk of Aotearoa. However "initial purchase and subsequent development costs were financed by" T. and Y. Souma of Japan. The Soumas are willing to put more capital into the venture as long as their "existing interests as lender have been converted to equity." They have lent "in excess of $3 million". The proposal included a "destination golf course resort and associated facilities including tourist accommodation" on 113 hectares of freehold land and 40 hectares of leasehold land which was a "fine wool farm" purchased in September 1992 for $895,000.
At that stage, a New Zealander, Roger B. Sandford, also had a 0.1% holding and acted as spokesman for the company. The company told the OIC in 1992 that "the total estimated expenditure on the project will be approximately $96 million over a ten year period." Sandford told the Press (10/11/92), that
In the meantime it has run into local opposition for environmental reasons. It required a zoning change by the Christchurch City Council, and Canterbury Regional Council concerns that it lay in the Waimakariri River flood plain and required its consent led to appeals to the High Court. The Regional Council consents were granted in March 1995, but City Council rezoning proposals were still opposed by locals and the Airport company. Support for the project came from the golf course designer, Bob Charles, real estate developers ("research had shown that one of the main reasons Japanese enjoyed New Zealand was because it was relatively easy and cheap to play golf" (!)) and the Christchurch Casino. Two hundred submissions were made to City Council hearings in 1993, a third of which opposed the plan, many neighbours worried at the precedent set for "nibbling away" at the green belt. The proposal then was for a four storey 200 bedroom hotel and 30 fairway villas. This was a revision to the original plan which included 40 resort villas, 200 fairway villas and an 80 room three-storey hotel. The 30 fairway villas were each capable of being subdivided and sold with freehold title as permanent residential accommodation, thus raising the possibility of permanent residential accommodation within the green belt. (Ref: Press, 28/9/93, "Charles backs planned golf resort for Chch"; 1/12/93 ,"Groynes resort submissions pour in"; 2/12/93, "Approval for golf resort necessary for tourism"; 8/3/94, "Belfast residents upset by Groynes precedent"; 27/3/95, "Granting of consents brings Groynes golf resort closer", p.4.)
However the public story regarding the financing of the developments was quite different from what the OIC has approved. According to Justin Prain, a spokesman for a consortium of local investors, Canterbury Golf International Ltd, they were going to take over the now "$120 million" development. They had "offered to form a joint venture with the Japanese developers but the Japanese decided last month to sell their interests in the project." The details of the project would be unchanged. "While Japanese tourists would be the target market, the company planned to attract local people as well." The arguments for local body consents were still continuing. (Press, "Chch takes over resort plan", 23/12/95, p.2.)
UDC Finance Ltd, a subsidiary of ANZ Banking Group (New Zealand) Ltd, is acquiring all the redeemable preference shares in UDC Leasing Ltd, another ANZ subsidiary, for $18,280,966.