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December 22, 2017

New Zealand OIO rejects HNA’s $460m UDC acquisition

New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has rejected HNA Group’s application to acquire ANZ Bank New Zealand-owned UDC Finance for $460m citing uncertainty over the ownership and control interests of the acquirer.

OIO, the authority regulating foreign direct investment into New Zealand, rejected TIP-HNA New Zealand application saying it was not convinced that the test in section 18 of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 was met.

The law requires the respective foreign investor to have necessary business acumen and needs to be free from entry restrictions in the country.

The decision was delegated to the OIO due to the involvement of significant business assets.

OIO is expected to publish all documents of the decision in its website early next year.

However, TIP-HNA New Zealand can file an appeal in the High Court to review the OIO’s decision.

The proposed acquisition of UDC Finance, one of the largest non-bank lenders, was agreed by the associated parties nearly a year ago. The UDC acquisition would have been the first deal for HNA in New Zealand.

The company has announced multiple acquisitions in the last two years with a combined worth of nearly $50bn.

However, it has been subjected to increased scrutiny about its ownership and governance in the recent months.

An HNA spokesperson said that OIO’s decision was inconsistent with the views of other regulators around the world and expressed their disappointment over the rejection of the deal.

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