New Zealand Immigration via Investments (Part I)
In general, ‘acceptable investments’ can be:
- Equity in NZ firms, public or private. An equity investment can be active or passive and direct or via managed funds (only the proportion of the Fund that is invested in NZ is counted as acceptable)
- Bonds, issued by the NZ Government, NZ local authorities or approved NZ banks, finance companies or firms
- New residential property development that is not for the investor’s personal use and designed to make a commercial return on the open market
To be considered acceptable, an investment must:
- Be capable of a commercial return under normal circumstances
- Be invested in New Zealand in New Zealand currency
- Have the potential to contribute to New Zealand’s economy
- Not be for the personal use of the investor
This is just an overview, and other conditions apply.
1. BUYING SHARES
Shares in publicly listed companies in New Zealand are bought and sold on the New Zealand Stock Exchange.
The exchange operates four capital markets, providing a diverse offering for investors.
The markets are operated within a regulatory framework designed to maximise transparency, fairness, efficiency and competitiveness, and to promote confidence among all market participants. Under NZX rules, companies are required to disclose information to the market that is material to the value of their shares as soon as they become aware of the information. This ensures the market is fully informed and investors all have fair access to material information.
NZ Stock Market
The NZX Market is the premier equities board and is home to many of New Zealand’s best known brands. Among the more than 200 listed issuers are many of New Zealand’s long-established heritage companies and a number of overseas companies. They are the cornerstone companies of the NZX and New Zealand’s economy.
The NZX headline index is known as the NZSX 50, and comprises the 50 largest companies listed on the NZSX Market by market capitalisation.
NXT is a new, streamlined market targeted at small to mid-sized businesses whose growth potential may be constrained by a lack of expansion capital. The previous offering for this sector, the NZ Alternative Market, NZAX continues to trade but no further listing applications are being accepted.
NZ Debt Market
The NZDX is New Zealand’s market for trading debt securities, offering a range of investment securities including corporate and Government bonds and fixed income securities.
NZ Derivatives Market
The NZX Derivatives Market provides investors with the tools to manage and gain exposure to New Zealand’s capital markets and the global dairy industry.
Investments in the New Zealand stock market can be made directly through a broker who is registered with the NZX. Contact us for guidance on finding the right registered broker in New Zealanf.
Investments can also be made through managed funds. A number of managed funds are listed and traded on the New Zealand share market as Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). Others are offered by fund managers, and your legal or financial adviser will be able to provide details of the funds available.
Buying shares in a private company, not listed on the share market, is also possible under the Investor immigration categories. Contact us today for more information about companies which may be open to investment.
Investment regulations in New Zealand
New Zealand’s securities laws regulate the way investments are offered to investors. These laws existis to protect investors by requiring issuers to disclose the information investors need to make informed decisions. Registered banks and finance companies are supervised by the Reserve Bank. The stock exchange is supervised by NZX.
Product Disclosure Statement: most investments must have a concise PDS, aimed at prudent, non-expert. It must be clear and concise and is subject to page limits. It will be accompanied by an online register of all the other material required by the FMC Act. (There are some exceptions however, including small offers of debt and equity, for example, through ‘angel’ investor networks.
Audit: companies and funds must be audited each year and the auditor’s report included in any PDS and in the annual report to investors.
Annual financial statements: all issuers must prepare and register annual audited financial statements. Most issuers send these to investors with their annual reports.
Peer-to-peer lending and equity crowd funding: They are subject to regulation in New Zealand
More information about buying shares
The Financial Markets Authority has a comprehensive help me invest section that covers the processes, risks and safeguards you should consider when buying shares in New Zealand.
2. Buying a business
Buying an established business or franchise can be a good way to get yourself started in New Zealand. Investing in a proven business model or an existing business that already has customers and cash flow can have advantages over starting a business from scratch.
Ways to find a business in New Zealand
TJA can act as your business brokers. We have several businesses on our books for sale at any one time. We also have useful contacts and information on potential business opportunities.
Alternatively, you can conduct your own search for businesses for sale in New Zealand online, and you’re sure to find a variety of websites and services with businesses listed for sale.
3. Buying bonds
New Zealand has a range of fixed-interest bonds for you to invest in.
Newly issued debt securities can be bought through investment advisers or sharebrokers, and through the NZDX Market. The NZDX Market also provides a secondary market where investors can buy and sell debt securities through NZX advisers.
Government securities – Kiwi Bonds – can be purchased by members of the public through some registered banks, NZX brokers, chartered accountants, solicitors, investment advisers and investment brokers. Their credit rating is AA+, just beneath the highest possible. You buy Kiwi Bonds for terms of six months, one year, two years or four years.
Note that Kiwi Bonds are available only to New Zealand residents. Anyone resident outside New Zealand, even if they hold New Zealand citizenship, cannot invest in Kiwi Bonds. This is due to the requirements of securities regulations in offshore jurisdictions.
4. Being an angel investor
Angel investment is an opportunity for investors to become involved with innovative start-up businesses in New Zealand. It’s an approach that appeals to investors who are looking for potentially higher returns than traditional investments may offer.
Usually, angel investors provide the bridge funding from the self-funded stage of the business to the point that the business needs the level of funding that a venture capitalist would offer. Funding estimates vary, but usually range from $150,000 to $1.5 million. New Zealand offers unique opportunities for angel investors, with our reputation for success in specialised high value industries.
These include information and communications technology, biotechnology, screen production, niche manufacturing, wood processing, and call centres. In these established sectors, and others that are still emerging, New Zealand provides a positive environment where international investors can position themselves for advantage and develop world-changing ideas, creative intellect and high value specialisation.
For more information about angel investment opportunities in New Zealand, contact a TJA Consultant today for more information.
5. Buying commercial property
It is relatively easy to buy commercial property in New Zealand, either as an investment or as a base for your own business.
Commercial properties are widely available. Options include:
- Offices in all shapes and sizes, anything from either a single floor or suite in a larger building, to entire buildings
- Light industrial units, warehouses and showrooms from a few square metres to 3000+
- Heavy industrial premises
- Retail premises, usually small, sole-operator premises although entire shopping centres occasionally come onto the market
- Development projects, including major residential or retirement complexes and tourism enterprises.
In many cases, commercial property can be purchased with tenants – and leases – in place. In New Zealand tenants are liable for repairs, and often decorate. They are also usually liable for utilities, rates and insurance. This can mean a better net return for the commercial property investor in New Zealand.
Finding a commercial property
Most of the larger real estate agencies that deal in residential properties also offer commercial property listings and usually have specialist staff to handle these properties. There are also a number of specialist commercial property agencies that can provide leasing, sales, management or advisory services.
TJA has formed exclusive partnerships in bringing our clients a wide ranging portfolio for all their investing needs. Contact us today for more information.
The options for buying a commercial property in New Zealand include:
- Buying as an individual
- Buying as a partnership
- Buying through a company
- Buying through a trust.
As a part of our High Net Worth Immigration Program, our Immigration Lawyers will help you decide which business structure best fits your personal or financial circumstances.
Buying the property
TJA and our trusted New Zealand based service partners will assist you with handling the sale, such as making an offer to purchase and the terms and conditions of a lease. We will further advise you on relevant tax matters such as whether you’ll need to pay the 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the property.
6. Starting a business
For people wanting to start a new business, New Zealand is a smart choice. We’re ranked as the easiest place in the world to start a business, according to the 2015 World Bank survey (and the world’s second easiest country to do business in generally).
There are a few restrictions on establishing, owning and operating a business here. In fact, by using the Government’s online portals the official paperwork can be completed in a matter of hours.
Businesses in New Zealand generally use one of these three structures:
A. Sole trader
A sole trader operates a business on their own. The trader controls, manages and owns the business and is entitled to all profits but is also personally liable for all business taxes and debts. Usually a sole trader can establish the business without following any formal or legal processes and can employ other people to help run the business.
Many New Zealand businesses start as sole traders and then progress to a company structure as the business grows. Others form companies right from the start to take advantage of the protection and other benefits offered by the company structure.
Partnerships are most common among professional people and in the farming industry. This type of structure can be an effective way to share business operation costs where, for example, several professional people operate out of a joint office. Many partnerships are established with a formal partnership agreement. The partnership itself does not pay income tax. Instead it distributes the partnership income to the partners. The partners then pay tax on their own share.
Once the automatic option for professional people such as lawyers, doctors and accountants, partnerships are no longer as popular. This is because professionals can now adopt a company structure and may offer better protection. A well thought-out partnership agreement is essential to cover contingencies and possible conflicts. No registration is required to start a partnership.
C. Limited Liability Company
A company is a formal and legal entity in its own right and separate from its shareholders or owners. Shareholders’ liability for losses is limited to their share of ownership of the company. This does not apply when company directors have given personal guarantees for company debts, where a company has been trading while insolvent or is considered to be ‘trading recklessly’.
TJA can assist you with forming a New Zealand company efficiently. The limited liability company has proven to be the most popular and successful form of business structure in New Zealand. It has the advantage of helping foster confidence in the businesses by governing the relationships between investors (shareholders), directors and creditors and by giving customers, investors and other stakeholders a clearer picture of who and what they are dealing with.
D. Publicly listed companies
The New Zealand Stock Exchange operates two markets where public companies can list shares. The NZSX market has more than 200 listed issuers including many of New Zealand’s long-established heritage companies. NXT is a new, streamlined market targeted at small to mid-sized businesses whose growth potential may be constrained by a lack of expansion capital.
Other possible business structures
E. Look-Through Company (LTC)
This is a variation of a company structure that lets you offset any losses incurred in running your business against personal income from other sources (such as investments). It requires applying to Inland Revenue for special tax status. An LTC must be a New Zealand tax resident company, it must not have more than five owners and it must not be a flat (ie. apartment) owning company. You should discuss this option with your accountant or solicitor before making any decisions.
F. Trading Trust
A trading trust is a trust that carries on a business. This structure can offer benefits, but it is complicated and requires expert advice. Discuss the option with TJA to see if it is more appropriate for your needs than the business structures outlined above.
A co-operative business is owned and democratically controlled by its shareholder/members. The shareholders/members contribute the prime capital for the business and share in the profits of the business in proportion to their participation: the greater the participation, the larger the proportion of profits.
An example of this type of enterprise is a group of craftspeople banding together to jointly market their various craft products through a co-operatively owned and staffed studio or retail shop.
Check your business name
Before committing to logos, signage and stationery for your new business, TJA can assist you with searching the relevant company registry and intellectual property registry to ensure the name you want is not already protected.
For more information on our High Net Worth Immigration Program to New Zealand or any of our other jurisdictions covered, contact one of our Specialist Immigration Lawyers today on firstname.lastname@example.org