3 Sep 2016

Billions promised, nothing built in Chch deal

12:02 pm on 3 September 2016

Almost a year on from the announcement of a deal with a Chinese company to invest billions of dollars in the Christchurch rebuild there are still no projects signed up.

From left, Guoxin International's Fred Rahme, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch Councillor Raf Manji and Guoxin's William Wu

left, Guoxin International's Fred Rahme, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch councillor Raf Manji and Guoxin's William Wu at the announcement of the deal. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

In September 2015 Guoxin International signed a letter of cooperation and friendship with Christchurch City Council, as part of a commitment to raise up to $3 billion to invest in the city.

Christchurch City councillor Raf Manji said the still-to-be-built stadium was an example of the sort of thing Guoxin might be interested in tendering for.

Guoxin International is China's largest tendering and procurement company, with a focus on major government projects. In the past 16 years it has completed $750b in procurement and tendering projects.

However, the New Zealand registered company Guoxin NZ Ltd, which was incorporated in April 2015, was de-registered on 1 August 2016, and Guoxin International has made no investments in Christchurch.

Steve Clarke, director of investment with Development Christchurch, a Christchurch City Council owned company, said he understands Guoxin is still interested in investing in Christchurch, and has an accounting firm acting on their behalf in the city.

He said Guoxin have looked at a number of deals in the city, and carried out due diligence, but he said the challenge was to find deals of the right size and scale for their needs.

Mr Clarke said the investment had to work for both them and the city, with the real issue being how the ownership of the asset was dealt with.

Early on after the earthquakes a number of overseas entities came to Christchurch and said they were happy to provide finance or build infrastructure for projects such as the stadium or convention centre, Mr Clarke said.

"But construction finance is not actually a problem for us in New Zealand," he said.

"The issue really is the nature of ownership, whether we want people to come in and retain some sort of ownership in assets, or if they simply build those assets and expect us to write a cheque for them.

"From our point of view we would rather see some sort of relationship which would continue to see them engaged rather than just build it and leave."

Guoxin International was approached for comment but has not responded.

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