Latest News

AmCham shares news updates from member companies - subscribe by RSS, follow our LinkedIn page or become a member to receive notifications. 
  • 23 Dec 2019 5:12 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Restaurant Brands New Zealand Limited (RBD) has today entered into an asset purchase agreement with a KFC US franchisee for the purchase of 70 stores in Southern California, USA. The purchase comprises 59 KFC stores and 11 combined KFC and Taco Bell stores, together with a head office facility.

    The agreement is subject to the customary conditions for transactions of this nature, including Yum! approval and landlord approval for the assignment of store leases.

    Restaurant Brands will be offering continued employment on existing terms to all 1,100 part time and 500 full time staff currently employed by the franchisee.

    Russel Creedy, RBD Group CEO said, “This acquisition brings with it some very experienced and committed employees who we welcome to the Restaurant Brands family and we look forward to building the business further with them in what is a market with considerable potential for future growth.”

    The transaction is for a purchase price of $US73 million plus capital expenditure reimbursements for recent store refurbishment and customary working capital adjustments. It will be fully debt funded. The company is currently completing a refinancing exercise to, amongst other things, add extra capacity to its borrowing facilities.

    The business generates an annual turnover of $US95 million and a 12 month trailing store EBITDA (pre- G&A) of in excess of $US12 million.

    Russel Creedy added, “This acquisition provides RBD with immediate critical mass and a capable and stable organisation in California from which we can further expand.”

    Settlement is expected by March 2020.

    José Parés, Chairman of RBD said “We are delighted to take the next step in Restaurant Brands’ growth strategy. This acquisition provides us with a solid beach head in the US with significant opportunities for further development."


  • 20 Dec 2019 9:20 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Very pleased to announce that GE will supply wind turbines to the Mt Cass project in New Zealand, owned by MainPower New Zealand Limited. This will be our first wind farm in my adopted country, and will utilize the Typhoon-class 4.2-117 turbines. We are glad to be working with MainPower to support NZ's goals in expanding renewable energy!

    Chris Holsonback, Onshore Wind Product Manager at GE Renewable Energy

  • 28 Nov 2019 4:34 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    Straker Translations Limited will provide media localisation services powered by artificial intelligence for multiple TV series produced by a major US TV studio for the Latin American market.

    The NZ$1m deal for services that will be completed by March 2020 and will be the first time a television studio uses an advanced translation platform that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine translation algorithms to power automatic speech recognition to transcribe, translate and understand the nuances of actors’ dialogue while adhering to specific standards for sub-titling.

    This significantly increases translation automation before finally being edited by human translators through technical quality control and post-edition workflows.

    Straker’s fully integrated platform enables the studio, which is undisclosed for competitive reasons, to substantially reduce the time needed to localise TV shows by translating for the Latin America market, enabling quicker release times in those markets and decreasing the risk of piracy and associated security and authentication concerns.

    Read more

  • 27 Nov 2019 4:26 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    Recognising New Zealand as the next global player in medicinal cannabis, a leading American manufacturer of dietary supplements approached Medical Kiwi about working together. Last week, Empirical Labs and Medical Kiwi directors signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Empirical Labs head office in Fort Collins, Colorado.

    Established in December 2018, Medical Kiwi was the first medicinal cannabis company in the South Island to be granted a cultivation license by the Ministry of Health, allowing the company to establish a cannabis breeding programme for research and development for medicinal cannabis.

    Poised to provide New Zealanders with the medicinal cannabis products they need once the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act is passed this December, and for when the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is up and running in 2020, Medical Kiwi has been furthering its strategy of cementing strategic international relationships, the latest being with Empirical Labs.

    Medical Kiwi has already secured an uptake deal and signed an MoU with UK distributor Liberty Herbal Technologies Ltd, giving Medical Kiwi the rights to sell Liberty’s medicinal cannabis products and allowing Medical Kiwi to supply Liberty with medicinal cannabis for its hapac® devices sold globally. Medical Kiwi has also signed an exclusive distribution deal with Vitality CBD Limited, allowing Medical Kiwi to import and sell Vitality CBD’s full range of 0% THC products, currently sold across the UK including in Boots stores, Tesco supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores.

    Medical Kiwi Chairperson Aldo Miccio says the MoU with Empirical Labs is a coup for the company, and the New Zealand industry.

    “The world’s eyes are on New Zealand and we were extremely pleased that a global leader with 30 years’ experience in formulation and optimal ways of delivering pharmaceuticals, came through our door to work with us,” says Miccio.

    “Our new relationship with Empirical Labs means that we can get proven cannabis products quicker to market as they are ahead of New Zealand in research and development,” he says. “We also have an opportunity to develop some very exciting IP with Empirical Labs as we work together to develop new and unique medicinal cannabis products.

    Read more

  • 19 Nov 2019 4:24 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    Unfiltered - a business that interviews top business people for educational and motivational purposes - says it had raised US$1.5m ($2.4m) to fund expansion into the United States.

    Co-founder and chief executive Jake Millar said Daniel Saks, founder of US unicorn AppDirect had invested, along with Crimson Education's Jamie Beaton, Wildfire founder Victoria Ransom, property investor Garry Robertson, New York-based investor Campbell Myers and business academic Professor David Teece.

    However, the latest capital raising was dominated by early Xero investors, husband and wife Guy and Sue Haddleton, whose software company Anaplan listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year.

    Guy Haddleton and Beaton have joined former Saatchi & Saatchi global chief executive Kevin Roberts on the Unfiltered board, with Haddleton taking over as executive chairman, Millar said.

    Read More

  • 15 Nov 2019 3:36 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    Thanks to Russell McVeagh for hosting AmCham's end of year event.

    See all the photos on Flickr.

  • 15 Nov 2019 1:49 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    AmCham Womens Chapter hosted the “21st Century Leader: intersection between traditional and new leadership approaches for women”. See photos

    • Panel chair: Dr Sydney Savion, GM Learning, Air New Zealand
    • Katelyn Choe, U.S. Consul General
    • Wendy Kerr, Director – Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland Business School
    • Alliv Samson, COO, Kami Ltd

    If you get a curveball - how to cope with your career choices

    Wendy - say yes first and worry about the consequences later.

    Find the silver lining in this cloud - it's hard to do in the moment but ask, What is the big lesson in this?  How we choose to navigate this situation is what defines us.

    Alliv told the story about being rejected by YCombinator multiple times despite Kami's chairman being one of their investors.  Since choosing a different path, they now have grown from 1 to 7.5 million users.

    Katelyn spoke about dealing with unknowns.  She uses Suzy Welch's principle of 10-10-10.  What is the impact of this decision in 10 minutes, in  10 months and 10 years?

    Sydney recommended Sally Krawcheck's book - Own It: The Power of Women At Work.

    And Katelyn shared an acronym which she values - FAIL which stands for Fateful Accident In Learning.  And did you know she has a hopscotch outside her office and invited John Key (among others) to skip down it!

    Follow up reading

    To keep the learning flowing for our participants after the event, see the resources provided by our speakers.

  • 13 Nov 2019 7:19 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Washington DC today to attend a ministerial meeting focused on defeating ISIS, and to continue pursuing New Zealand’s trade opportunities.

    Mr Peters will participate in a meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers from key countries contributing to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The meeting will be chaired by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    “Despite the recent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS remains a threat.  Addressing that threat will require ongoing international cooperation,” says Mr Peters.

    While in Washington DC, Mr Peters will also hold meetings with the Trump Administration and Members of Congress, aimed at advancing the relationship between New Zealand and the United States.

    “As this Government has repeatedly made clear since taking office two years ago, New Zealand wishes to initiate Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the United States,” Mr Peters says.

    “This visit will build on an officials meeting last week where our two countries agreed to enhance the bilateral trade and investment relationship. We are looking to take things to the next level,” says Mr Peters.

    Mr Peters will be travelling 14-17 November.


  • 29 Oct 2019 5:05 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Good afternoon.

    First, thank you all for your attendance this afternoon and let me acknowIedge the efforts of Jordan Small for both the invitation and arranging today’s event.

    Before turning to the US –NZ relationship, it is important to raise one matter which has concerned the Government this week and that is the fire in the convention centre.

    The hosting of the APEC Leaders meeting in November 2021 has always been of importance for the country and Auckland City in particular.  Without doubt the fire is a setback. 

    What we need to do now and what we will do is demonstrate that New Zealand is a first world country and we has the ability to respond.

    In fact,  how we respond will speak volumes about our country.  Our challenge is to demonstrate we have the capability and can deliver on our prepared contingency options. How we respond will arguably showcase Auckland  just as much as if this disasterous fire didn’t happen.

    There is alot more information to gather and assessments to be made to develop our response. But the Government’s view is we are confident we can and will successfully host APEC.

    It will require extra effort from all of us, including many of you here today.   However, with applied effort it is achievable.  And the government looks forward to working with you in that regard.

    This Government knows where its strategic interest lies and that brings me to the critical importance of the United States to New Zealand, and to our corner of the world in general.

    The relationship is, of course, made up of many interwoven strands.  We enjoy close political ties born of our long history of friendship; our shared advocacy for democratic values and norms; and our track record of working closely together in regional and global affairs over the past several decades.

    The commercial significance of the US for New Zealand businesses is huge, as you would expect for our fourth-largest trading partner.  Two-way trade is worth more than $18 billion each year, and we want to take action to see that grow.

    We continue to see high profile business investments and transactions taking place between New Zealand and American firms – for example, Air New Zealand’s recent Boeing Dreamliner purchase.   

    We are also seeing substantial growth in numbers of people travelling between the US and New Zealand.  We received around 368,000 visitors from the US in the year to July, making the US our third largest international visitor market.

    And from June this year, New Zealand business people have been able to access E1 and E2 visas for the first time – a joint achievement for the US and New Zealand under the KIWI Act.

    The Government is investing too in a positive future for the relationship – for instance, in doubling our contribution to the Fulbright New Zealand programme, to make sure our best and brightest young people can get access to top US universities.

    In short, the current state of the bilateral relationship is excellent.  Moreover, the Prime Minister’s meeting with President Trump in New York on 23 September was a milestone.  It was clear from that conversation that we enjoy support at the highest levels in Washington, D.C. for lifting the relationship to its fullest potential.

    For all of these reasons and others, it has been important to prioritise a series of meetings with my American counterparts through visits to Washington, D.C. in December 2018 and then again in July this year.

    The key to continued success with the US will be respect, and personal relationships.  If my discussions in July were any indication, US leaders have started to look at New Zealand with a fresh appreciation for the benefits of working with us, and with a renewed sense of the opportunities for regional cooperation.

    In an address to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. in July, my speeched focused on some of the historic ties that bind us as long-standing regional democracies and strategic partners.  Our political systems and values are underpinned by pluralism; by respect for human rights and religious freedoms; and by a commitment to maintaining the rule of law.

    These are the values that form the bedrock of our status as two of only nine countries around the world that have held continuous democratic elections since 1854.

    It is evident however that the underlying strength of some of these foundational democratic values is increasingly being challenged in the Pacific, as they are elsewhere.  My contention is that, to ensure regional prosperity, we must work together to create the conditions that will allow those values to flourish.

    This demands a step up in our respective levels of commitment to the region.  New Zealand has taken that step, in the form of the Pacific Reset.  We are committed through the Reset to building deeper, more mature political partnerships with Pacific Island countries, while supporting their independence and sustainable social and economic resilience.

    My Georgetown University address in December 2018 set out to express a point of view on the importance of greater US engagement in the Pacific.  Nearly a year on, we see real progress in collaborative effort among likeminded partners, including New Zealand and the US, to work together to enhance regional security and developmental assistance.

    It was also an opportunity to point out that, as likeminded partners, we need to support each other economically by ensuring we reduce and remove barriers to trade, and by understanding each other’s economic imperatives.

    New Zealand already makes strong contributions to defence, security and prosperity across the Indo-Pacific, and across the Blue Continent of the South Pacific.  We are eager to maintain and build on our contribution.  But we can only do this if we are economically prosperous.

    And therein lies the rationale behind our decision to act decisively and to place a high priority on building a stronger bilateral economic relationship between the US and New Zealand, through a Free Trade Agreement.

    In addition to the economic benefits of a stronger relationship for the US and New Zealand, an FTA with New Zealand would also send a signal about the seriousness of US engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.

    The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans‑Pacific Partnership Agreement, or CPTPP, has been an important benchmark in that regard.  While not all of us endorsed every single aspect of the original TPP, it was still a matter of concern to us that the US chose to withdraw when they did.  Aside from the loss of market access, the result has been a regrettable retrenchment of US economic presence, profile and influence from the region, at a time when it is most certainly needed and warranted.

    We see it as being in America’s interest – and in our own – for the US to retain its place at the table when it comes to setting the rules that will guide the region’s economic development and trade patterns long into the future.

    We have a choice.  We either work together to ensure the regional rules of commerce protect the fundamental pillars our firms need to succeed – open markets, enforcement of contracts, access to independent judiciaries, and penalties for corruption and nepotism.  Or we leave the rules to be written by others, placing our companies’ livelihoods in jeopardy.

    A stronger economic relationship with New Zealand would also help to arrest another concerning trend.  Despite our strong economic links, the US share of exports to New Zealand is declining relative to other partners with whom we have FTAs.  This is consistent with the broader trend for US exports around the region as a whole.  And it illustrates what the US stands to gain by turning that trajectory around.

    The point is backed by the numbers.  Though US exports to the world have grown by 5.3 percent on average per year since 1990, the share of US total exports to New Zealand dropped, from nearly 18 percent to 10 percent.

    Meanwhile, imports from our regional partners with whom we have FTAs have grown significantly in relative terms over the same period.  China’s exports to New Zealand, for instance, have grown on average by 17 percent per year.  And China's share of total exports to New Zealand has grown from 1 percent to 20 percent during that time – becoming our largest source of imported goods.

    The shift is even more drastic for the US share of imports across Asia.  In 1990, 17.4 percent of all goods imported to Asia came from the US, whereas by 2018 that share had fallen to just 7.4 percent.  Put another way, the US has lost half of its market share in Asia over a 28 year period.

    Naturally, with the revamped CPTPP agreement now in force, we would welcome a US return to the fold, under the revised set of rules and conditions.

    But as things stand, we also contend that there is a viable path forward to be found in a bilateral FTA process with the US.  You will recall that President Trump declared the US as being open ‘to making bilateral trade agreements with any Indo-Pacific nation that wants to be our partner and that will abide by the principles of fair and reciprocal trade.’ 

    Of all countries, New Zealand has to be among the best credentialed to make good on our side of that deal.  Indeed, we are uniquely ready to take the next step, given our proven track record in pursuing ambitious trade deals, and our advocacy for ‘free and fair’ global trade.

    New Zealand’s interest in a bilateral trade deal with the US is not new.  Some of you will be aware that New Zealand’s desire for ‘a reciprocal trade treaty’ was articulated by former Finance Minister Walter Nash to President Roosevelt and members of the US State Department and Treasury, as far back as 1939.

    Which brings us to today, some eighty years later. And all of you will want to know where we see an FTA process going over the course of the next year, and beyond.  In fact, MFAT’s senior trade official will be meeting with his US opposites in Washington, D.C. soon to talk through some of the options.

    These are still very early days for an FTA discussion.  Naturally, we would by no means expect an FTA negotiation to be a straightforward process.  There will inevitably be disagreements and differences.  But we refuse to accept that the right result cannot be attained, simply because it would be challenging in certain respects.

    Many here might agree that there can only be benefits to business if we succeed in diversifying our export destination options.  And in my view, there is still a lot of headroom for strong growth in New Zealand’s exports to the US market. 

    In an uncertain geostrategic environment, it will serve us well to ensure we are keeping open as many avenues as we can to trade with our partners abroad.  This is why this Government continues to press ahead with negotiations with the EU, the Pacific Alliance, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (or RCEP), and others.

    We do not deny that there would likely be some challenging choices for us to face if we want to get an FTA with the US over the line.  Some of those thorny issues have already seen the light of day in TPP negotiations – on market access ambition, pharmaceuticals, copyright and the like.

    But we need to think positively about all of this, focus our attention forward, and keep the end goal in sight.  We have agreement in principle now from US leaders that this is the right direction for the relationship to be going.  As I said in Washington, D.C. in July, the lack of a trade deal is an obvious gap in an otherwise exemplary bilateral relationship.  And we have not made the progress on a trade agreement that we should have done.

    We have been patient for eighty years.  The time to act is now, while we have so much to play for in economic and strategic terms.

    We have been clear about the direction that we see this relationship going.  We are optimistic about finding common ground when it comes to matters of economic prosperity.  And we can all be confident that an improved trade relationship between New Zealand and the US will be one of those areas.  And I have been assured by Vice President Pence and other top US political figures that they share that vision.

    So we are continuing to push in that direction.  It is not an easy prospect, and we will undoubtedly need to call on the support of the New Zealand-US Council and other members of New Zealand’s business community as we work to make it happen.  But with patience and persistence, it is an outcome within our grasp.

    Thank you.


  • 29 Oct 2019 8:51 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Airline also adds new direct service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Auckland

    FORT WORTH, Texas — A trip to the breathtaking landscape of the majestic Southern Alps will become much shorter when American Airlines launches the only nonstop service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Christchurch, New Zealand (CHC), next October. The airline is also adding the only direct service between Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Auckland, New Zealand (AKL), which will increase connecting opportunities for more customers across the United States. These routes are a direct result of the recently approved joint business with Qantas, which delivers new customer benefits like enhanced codeshare opportunities and increased frequent flyer benefits for American and Qantas customers.

    The gateway to the South Island

    Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and as the only carrier to operate this route, American will introduce its customers to one of the world’s most unique destinations.

    “The South Island sums up everything that our customers are looking for in New Zealand — adventure, culture and wildlife found no where else,” said Vasu Raja, American’s Senior Vice President of Network Strategy. “We want to make their lifelong dreams a reality and bring New Zealand’s beauty even closer as the gateway to the South Island where you can drive, hike, cruise and fly to a variety of classic New Zealand experiences.”

    American will fly to CHC three times per week from October 2020 through March 2021 on a Boeing 787-8. The 787-8 features 20 Flagship Business seats and 28 Premium Economy seats, providing additional comfort for the 13-hour flight. The aircraft offers a variety of entertainment options for customers, with access to power at every seat, live television, and hundreds of movies, music, games and TV shows.

    LAX to CHC creates unique one-stop connections to the South Island not previously available by any other carrier. Qantas and Jetstar will connect passengers from CHC on to Wellington and Melbourne — some of the most popular destinations in the Pacific.

    A new way to New Zealand

    American currently operates seasonal service from LAX to AKL and will add new service from DFW next year. Flights will be operated with American’s state-of-the-art 787-9, with 30 Flagship Business seats and 21 Premium Economy seats. New flights from DFW to AKL will enable new one-stop connections to New Zealand from more than 70 cities across the United States.

    “Now, we’re able to get customers from places like Louisville, Savannah or Monterrey, Mexico, all the way to New Zealand with just one stop,” said Raja.

    As American enhances its commitment to the region, seasonal LAX to AKL service will resume earlier next year — Oct. 7 — adding three weeks of service to the increasingly popular destination.

    “The South Island is a must-see for any international visitor to New Zealand,” said Stephen England-Hall, Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive. “Thanks to the new nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Christchurch and Dallas-Fort Worth to Auckland, it’s is now easier than ever before to experience all that unique and welcoming New Zealand has to offer.”

    Benefits of the Qantas Joint Business

    American and Qantas recently received final approval to form a joint business, which promises significant customer benefits not possible through any other form of cooperation. The carriers have already rolled out improved frequent flyer benefits, including higher earning rates for points and status credits on each airline’s network, and have expanded codeshare routes on each other’s network. Qantas will also increase from six weekly flights between Sydney, Australia (SYD), and DFW to daily service by mid-2020. Additionally, Qantas announced new service from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Brisbane, Australia (BNE), which will launch in February and April respectively. Qantas will have its code on American’s new flights to New Zealand, giving Qantas frequent flyers more opportunities to earn and redeem Qantas points and status credits on American. Next year, American and Qantas will provide the most service to Australia and New Zealand from the United States.

    LAX–AKL flights beginning in Oct. 2020 will be available for purchase starting Nov. 9. New LAX–CHC and DFW–AKL flights will be available for purchase starting Nov. 30.