The sale of Taupō's motorsport park to a car racing aficionado who has now invested $80 million in the sport in New Zealand will have a quirky benefit for those needing housing in Rotorua.
The Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust had a 10.8 per cent share in previous park owner TMP Ltd, now in liquidation.
With the sale that 700,000-share stake will reap more than $800,000 to be used towards housing initiatives in the city, a trust spokesman said.
The trust, the single biggest shareholder, paid $1 a share in the early 2000s for its stake in development of the motorsport park and circuit, which according to reports, is generally accepted as Australasia's best motorsport facility.
The trust would receive $1.20 a share minus liquidators' costs, the spokesman said.
The investment had been made in the days when Rotorua served flights bringing in international tourists, and to help build a facility to boost the local regional economy, he said.
"The trust was always looking for an opportunity to exit, but it hasn't come up until now."
That opportunity came in the shape of Tony Quinn, a Scottish-born entrepreneur and motorsport fan who divides his time between New Zealand and Australia, and owns two other New Zealand premier motorsport circuits, Highlands in Central Otago and Waikato's Hampton Downs.
His Keltic Motorsport group bought what is now called the Taupō International Motorsport and Events Centre from TMP for $9.8m. The deal settled in mid-December and brings to $80m Quinn's investment so far in New Zealand motor racing, said group chief executive Josie Spillane.
Quinn had invested $32m building Highlands and a similar amount developing Hampton Downs, she said.
Most of the 38 hectare Taupō park land, including the track, facilities and car park land, is leased from the Taupō District Council. Its ratepayers have been significant contributors to development of the park, which was completed in 2006 at a total cost of around $13m.
In June 2012 the council loaned TMP $1,469,925, made up of $1.15m to purchase a parcel of land and $319,925 in relation to rates and rent arrears.
The loan balance of $560,000 was repaid to the council when the sale of the motorsport park was settled last month, a council spokesperson said.
In 2005, the council also contributed $2 million towards track work, necessary to complete the extension and upgrade of the track and sealed pit area.
The Labour government of the day was reported to have contributed around $2m to the development, to enable hosting of large international events. The grandstand lining a fast and long straight, which can also be converted to a drag strip, seats 10,000 spectators. The total track length is 3.5km with twisting sections and 14 turns.
Asked to comment on the sale to Quinn, Taupō mayor David Trewavas said the park, which incorporates training facilities, a substantial corporate suite building and a corporate and catering complex, was a great asset for Taupō.
"The new owners are very experienced motorsport operators in New Zealand and we wholeheartedly welcome them to our district."
Previous owner TMP, trading as Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, had more than 150 shareholders, many of them Taupō locals holding just a handful of the total 6.43m shares on issue.
Liquidators Iain Shepherd and Jessica Kellow of BDO in their first report said TMP was placed in liquidation after the sale in order to distribute residual capital to shareholders.
Based on information so far, the liquidation on January 6 would be a solvent event. All creditors, if not already paid, would be paid in full within 12 months from residual cash after the sale and settling of all creditors.