A corporation is owned by its shareholders and, as a group, they potentially possess a great amount of control over corporate operations.

When KASM describes seabed mining company Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) as “95% foreign owned,” we refer to the the share distribution by country. In fact, if you ever had a look at the share distribution for TTR on the companies office website, you would have noticed that only 1.53% of the shares are in kiwi hands.  

Until August 9 2016, that is. On that day, just weeks before lodging their application to mine the seabed in the South Taranaki Bight, TTR transferred a 48% slice of the cake from TTR INVESTMENT HOLDING NETHERLANDS COOPERATIE UA to MINVEST SECURITIES (NEW ZEALAND) LIMITED, which is, ultimately, 99%-owned by an Auckland law firm. Claymore Partners.

What has happened here?

TTR may have realised that having 98% foreign ownership is not going to fly with the New Zealand public. So before they lodged the application, they transferred the bulk part of the shares to a NZ company (a trick called Securities lending), effectively skewing the figures so they now appear to be 50% New Zealand owned.

We are pretty certain that, if the application gets granted, they will transfer those shares back. And to make sure they get them back, they chose a law firm to temporarily hold on to them.

Cheeky, eh?

TTR Shareholdings by country