Kerr behind Hanley’s development


The developer of Queenstown’s newest subdivision says its association with private equity fund Torchlight is no secret.

Hanley’s Farm, just north of Jack’s Point, is the latest in a series of high-density developments in Queenstown to excite first-home buyers and investors.

The first 100 sections sold out last Saturday and another stage is expected for release before Christmas.

Hanley’s developer, Melbourne-based RCL Group, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Torchlight, a Cayman Islands-based fund whose major investor is South Island entrepreneur George Kerr.

Torchlight’s role as RCL’s parent is not mentioned in Hanley’s Farm publicity material.

The fund faces legal action from investors, including government-owned Crown Asset Management.

RCL Group boss David Wightman says Torchlight’s association with the subdivision is “no secret”.

“It’s been the case for many many years, so yes Torchlight’s involved in it.

“If people for some reason don’t wish to be involved because of some association, they can make that choice if they want to.”

RCL’s track record in property development stands alone, Wightman says.

“We develop six or seven hundred lots a year and have been doing so for many, many years.”

The NBR Rich List, out last week, says the litigation is a “major threat” to the fund.

It says Crown Asset Management is one of a group of investors seeking to liquidate Torchlight and distribute the proceeds.

Torchlight is 42 per cent-owned by NZX-listed Pyne Gould Corporation, which is 80 per cent-owned by Kerr.

The NBR says the litigation is a “major threat” to the fund, particularly since Kerr argues its assets need more time to achieve full value.

Kerr, whose fortune is estimated at $60 million by NBR - down from $80m last year - owns a large home near Lake Hayes.

He’s in London and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Wightman says ground works should start next month but it will take 15-18 months to deliver titles on stage one sections.

The “large number” of prospective buyers who missed out on the first 100 sections are at the front of the queue for the next release, he says.

Mountain Scene understands as many as 800 people registered their interest by paying a $2000 refundable deposit at an open day in June.

Although the plan change approving Hanley’s Farm, known as Plan Change 44, has been appealed to the Environment Court, the first stage was not affected because it came under the Jack’s Point Resort Zone approval.