Austrian billionaire Wolfgang Leitner has sunk another $5 million of his vast fortune into land to expand forestry in Hawke's Bay, this time buying a sheep and beef farm north of Napier.
He has received approval from the Overseas Investment Office to buy 478 hectares of land on Aropaoanui Rd, Tangoio, for $5,250,000.
The land is currently part of Glenview Farm, with 441.98 hectares currently being grazed.
Following settlement, Leitner plans to plant approximately 386.4 hectares as a commercial forest.
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The remainder of the land includes 15.2 hectares of existing native bush and unplantable land containing boundary and riparian setbacks and ponds.
It is Leitner's third land purchase on the East Coast since October when he acquired consent to buy a $4.5m 489ha sheep and beef farm near Gisborne and most recently in March received consent to buy the 800ha Ponui Station at Kotemaori, Wairoa for $8 million.
The 66-year-old told Hawke's Bay Today back in March that he has for many years had a personal interest in sustainable forestry and farming.
"It's something I'm very passionate about," he said.
He also has dairy farms in Europe and Chile and wished to invest in dairy farming in New Zealand but said under strict rules he is unable to.
Leitner said he has known about the forestry industry in New Zealand for a long time with his company Andritz - of which he is CEO - supplying products to New Zealand companies and utilities. It is a global leader for hydro power and pulp production equipment.
"Above all New Zealand is a fantastic country with very likeable people.
"I plan to spend time there to explore more of its beauties. This could include some moderate additions to my forestry business/hobby."
His applications were approved under a special forestry test, brought in more than a year ago, to smooth the way for more forestry investment.
"The special forestry programme encourages converting marginal farm land into pine forest and grants carbon credits against committing to long-term, sustainable forestry," he said.
With an estimated net worth of US$1.5 billion according to Forbes, ranking 1349 on its rich list, Leitner is a chemist by training but joined Andritz in 1987, was made CEO in 1994 and bought a 26 per cent stake in the company in 1999.
He eventually turned Andritz into one of Austria's largest companies and a global giant.
Leitner comes from a somewhat modest background with his father also having worked for Andritz, serving the company for three decades as a metal worker.
His wealth stems from the sale of Pharmavit, part of pharmaceutical outfit Genericon which he founded, for $110m in 1995 helping towards his buy in to Andritz.