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Philip Morris CEO buys Northland farm

NZN 30/06/2017 Pattrick Smellie

The chief executive of global cigarette company Philip Morris, Andreas Calantzopoulos, has been granted Overseas Investment Office permission to buy a 316-hectare beef and cattle farm in Waipapa, Northland.

The property is on Pungaere Road, which runs between Kerikeri and the Puketi Forest, placing it well within the electorate of the local MP and New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters.

Mr Peters is both an ardent critic of land sales to foreign buyers and for many years an ardent tobacco consumer.

The OIO decision says the Switzerland-based Mr Calantzapolous and his wife Malgoratza plan to "farm the land in accordance with permaculture principles for breeding beef cattle and sheep".

They would protect "two significant areas of indigenous forest" under covenant with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust, fence other areas of indigenous vegetation, and undertake native plantings and pest control on the property, through which the Kerikeri River flows.

The value of the sale by a trust associated with the owners, the Bonham family, which is listed in corporate directories as having farming interests in both Northland and the South Island, is not disclosed.

Mr Calantzopoulos is at the forefront of the cigarette giant's efforts to introduce alternatives to cigarettes.

"I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products...to start envisaging, together with governments, a phase-out period for cigarettes," he said.

"I hope this time will come soon."

While the World Health Organisation estimates that tobacco accounts for around six million deaths each year around the world, Philip Morris believes its electronic alternatives are less harmful to health than both conventional cigarettes and vaporisers.

Its IQOS heats tobacco into a vapour, whereas most e-cigarettes are loaded with a liquid.

While legal in more than a dozen countries, the IQOS system has yet to be licenced for use in New Zealand.

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