A Japanese meat company mega-merger in 2016 fell foul of New Zealand overseas investment rules, prompting a warning from the Government regulator.
Last December, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approved Itoham Foods’ application to spend $98 million buying the 35 percent of New Zealand meat processor ANZCO Foods it didn’t own. But the OIO’s consideration of the application uncovered that a 2016 merger between Itoham’s parent company and fellow Japanese company Yonekyu Corporation – creating the world’s ninth-biggest meat processor – fell foul of the law. That’s because the merged entity, listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, as an overseas investor owning 65 percent of ANZCO, acquired an interest in sensitive New Zealand assets. The transaction therefore needed the regulator’s approval.
According to an OIO report into the ANZCO deal – released to Newsroom under the Official Information Act – Itoham Yonekyu said the breach was inadvertent. No New Zealand lawyers were involved in the application. “There appears to have been an incorrect assumption by the parties involved in the transaction that New Zealand laws would not be relevant to a transaction which took place in Japan and in which all companies directly involved in the transaction were incorporated and based in Japan,” the OIO report says.