Kiwi reportedly gives up on efforts to buy Italian island

Kiwi businessman Michael Harte. Photo / Getty Images
Kiwi businessman Michael Harte. Photo / Getty Images

After years of legal wrangling, millionaire Kiwi businessman Michael Harte has reportedly given up on efforts to buy a pristine Italian island.

In 2013, the banker paid $4.8 million at auction for Budelli Island -- an Italian national park considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean.

Budelli is part of the La Maddalena island group which lies between Sardinia and Corsica and is renowned for its "pink" beach.

An unspoilt island of 1.6sq km, any construction is banned and access is permitted only accompanied by staff from the park's authority.

Mr Harte, a top executive at Barclays and formerly chief information officer of Commonwealth Bank, had wished to undertake conservation work there, calling it his "first and most important objective" soon after buying the island.

But the deal hit a roadblock when a Sardinian court overturned a 2014 ruling allowing the sale and, amid protest from locals over a foreigner claiming ownership, the Italian government passed legislation that enabled a state buy-back.

Although the Italian Government took back the island and reimbursed Mr Harte, he successfully appealed the decision and Italy's National Park Authority was ordered to hand custody over to Mr Harte, who was given 60 days to pay $5 million.

However, the businessman appears to have now given up on the project.

Sardinian newspaper La Nuova Sardegna reported that Mr Harte's lawyer had written to local mayor Luca Montella to announce his waiver of the purchase.

In a letter, Mr Harte's lawyer cited uncertainty around the island's classification as a reserve, as well as "persistent opposition" to his conservation plan, for walking away from the deal.

[NZME-NZG-NZC]

-NZH

- NZ Herald

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