Hickey Lawyer managing director Tony Hickey said the new Significant Investor Visa would change the landscape of international investment.

Significant Investor Visa to Lead Development Boom

Friday, 11 January 2013

South East Queensland is headed for a wave of tourism and residential development activity on the back of a new 'significant investor' visa designed to encourage migrants to direct capital towards private, non-listed companies and projects, according to Gold Coast firm Hickey Lawyers.

The significant investor visa, which came into effect on November 24  last year, provides a pathway for migrants who invest $AU5 million or more into  complying private companies or development projects to receive permanent residency within six years.

Hickey Lawyers managing director Tony Hickey said the new law would change the landscape of international investment , as government stocks and bonds or ASIC regulated managed funds had previously been the primary vehicle for migrants looking to obtain visa credentials.

"This is an important change to government policy which, subject to final criteria, will allow international parties who invest at least $5 million in a private non-listed Australian company to obtain a permanent residency visa," he said.

"This is a clear signal that current federal, state and regional leaders recognise the value in attracting and retaining international investors who have the capacity to immediately escalate local development and business activity.

"To date, many migrants with significant capital have bypassed this type of investment because it did not provide an avenue for them to obtain residency.

"By removing this roadblock, the new legislation has the potential to provide a major shot in the arm for the development industry, with more up-front capital available to ensure projects meet funding requirements, which in turn means more jobs and economic growth."

Mr Hickey said international investor sentiment about South East Queensland - and particularly the Gold Coast - was already positive, and the new visa rules would only improve business ties.

He said he anticipated the majority of new investment would stem from East Asia, with his designated Chinese Business team - which includes business partner Simon Chan, a senior lawyer Marianne Munford   and a full time Chinese Business Manager Jade Couper - well equipped to cater to growing demand.

"I recently visited seven major cities in China with Simon,  and the feedback was that most executives view our economy as stable with solid prospects for growth over the coming years," he said.

"The other major drawcard is the lifestyle we have here - people want to invest and live in this country, and that's why the visa amendments are so important - it delivers that extra incentive for these investors to act now.

"We recently finalised a deal with a Mongolian investor who has secured two large sites on the Gold Coast - including a beachfront lot at Coolangatta - with full funding in place and construction due to start early next year.

"This is an example of the sort of arrangement that we expect will become more commonplace - international investors will be looking for strategic sites which can be developed quickly once they provide the funding and all necessary approvals are obtained."

Tony Hickey

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