State houses popping up on billionaire’s radar

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THE man spearheading opposition to the Government’s sale of state houses says he believes the Pinnacle Group, headed by Chinese property billion› aire Dr Henry Cheng Kar›Shun, is interested in buying the 370 Invercar› gill houses.
John Minto said on its website, Pinnacle Group had indicated it was interested in the 1140 state houses on the market in Tauranga, and he saw no reason why Pinnacle would not buy the Invercargill stock too.
‘‘The website specifically mentions Tauranga, but they would be keen to buy anywhere, I think.’’
The Government intends selling up to a third of all state houses, beginning with Tauranga and Invercargill.
Expressions of interest close at the end of next month, with an announce› ment expected in April.
Mr Minto heads the State Housing Action Network (SHAN) which has seven branches including Invercargill.
He said SHAN had been given information anonymously that Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett met on December 11 with Pinnacle Group New Zealand managing director Roger O’Sullivan.
That tied in with the Pinnacle Group’s website which said the com› pany’s current focus was on New Zealand, including working with the Auckland City Council on its Housing for Older Persons project and ‘‘mar› ket sounding’’ a project in Tamaki, Auckland, and the Tauranga state house transfer.
‘‘New Zealand is providing very exciting market opportunities as the Government seeks innovative and transformative reform of the way social housing is managed and tenants supported,’’ the website said.
Gold Coast charity Horizon Hous› ing is interested in buying at least 400 homes, while Dunedin›based mental health services provider Pact is keen to acquire the Invercargill houses.
Mr Minto said as it had done with other potential purchasers, SHAN had written to Dr Cheng expressing its strong opposition to any pur› chaser, domestic or overseas, buying state houses.
‘‘The government sell›off of state housing is a travesty. New Zealand needs more state housing, not less. We are in the middle of a housing crisis for low and middle income New Zealanders and only the government has the resources and the capacity to provide the large number of quality, affordable housing so desperately needed.’’
A spokesman from Paula Ben› nett’s office said as far as he was aware, Ms Bennett had not met Mr O’Sullivan.

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