In response to the Covid-19 crisis, and for temporary period, all overseas investments that meet the following criteria, regardless of dollar value, must be notified to the OIO:
- an ownership or control interest exceeding 25%, 50% or 75% of any company or other entity having direct or indirect ownership or control of NZ assets;
- an acquisition of NZ assets (including real estate) representing more than 25% of the value of the vendor’s assets.
Notifications must be made through an online portal. The Government intends for the majority of notified transactions to be cleared within 10 working days. If, however, the Minister determines that the transaction may be contrary to the national interest, there will be an additional 30 working day review period. Transactions that are not cleared may be subject to a conditional direction order (requiring conditions to be met before implementation) or even a prohibition order.
The emergency notification regime is temporary, but once it has been revoked (which must occur no later than June 2022), it will be replaced by a “call-in power”, giving the OIO the ability to screen investments that would not otherwise require consent under the Overseas Investment Act. There is no obligation to make a notification (other than for military dual-use technology or critical direct suppliers), but a direction order granted following a notification will provide a safe harbour for the investment.