Billionaire ranks swell on Rich List

New Zealand's ranks of double billionaires have swollen, says a list of the country's richest people.

Those with a personal fortune exceeding $2 billion include food and timber tycoon Graeme Hart, New Zealand's wealthiest man with $2.75 billion, according to the National Business Review's Rich List.

He is closely followed by the Todd family, a Wellington-based dynasty with a $2.6 billion fortune, and Eamon Cleary, an Irishman once described as New Zealand's richest farmer, whose property empire is now worth a cool $2.1 billion. Last year his wealth was estimated at $280 million but thanks to record high dairy prices and land values, his fortune has rocketed.

Both with a $2 billion fortune are brothers Christopher and Richard Chandler. In December the brothers dissolved their 20-year partnership in their private investment firm, Sovereign Global Investment.

Also among the billionaires were the Goodman Family ($1.8 billion), and New Zealander-turned-Russian-magnate Stephen Jennings ($1 billion).

Rounding out the top 10 were the family of deceased alcohol baron Michael Erceg ($700 million), Douglas Myers ($700 million), and Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite ($660 million each).

The richest woman was Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron, with $300 million.

Raising the minimum qualifying entry to $50 million from $25 million saw entrants fall to 176 from 222 last year. However, the overall wealth of Rich Listers grew 11 per cent to $39.07 billion.

NBR Rich List editor Andrea Parker said "$50 million is the new rich. That's the word according to this year's NBR Rich List.

"For the past three years, the Rich List threshhold has sat at $25 million. It is time the bar was raised.

"As Lloyd Jones writes in his article about attitudes to wealth: 'Today anyone who has title to property in the inner-city neighbourhoods of Wellington or Auckland or owns a shack on a piece of coastline is by proxy a millionaire. Millionaire is no longer a big deal'."

More interesting are the newcomers with property and real estate featuring along with technology and manufacturing.

The self-made-man model is alive and well in the form of 38-year-old Manukau real estate magnate Don Ha, who comes in at 143rd equal overall with his financial worth estimated at $60 million.

Not bad for a Vietnamese refugee who was just a kid when he arrived in New Zealand in 1980 with his penniless family.

The family opened a string of bakeries in South Auckland but Mr Ha went his own way, importing shoes and belts from Asia, only beginning his real estate career in 1994.

Mr Ha became a top salesman in the Professionals Group, selling 86 properties in his first year.

He was headhunted by the Ray White Group in 2004 and now owns Ray White Manukau, which has subsequently achieved record-breaking sales. Mr Ha shelled out $2 million on a Zabeel colt from champion racemare Sunline at the Karaka yearling sales in January.

Another to bask in the glory of self-made-man is Terry Serepisos, a Greek-born Wellingtonian who according to the magazine would be a Footballers' Wives dream with his flash cars, dress sense and ability to party hard.

Worth $100 million and 88th equal overall, the property developer also backs the Wellington Phoenix soccer club, which he tells the NBR was an "investment from the heart".

Not only that, Serepisos sponsors the Wellington Cup carnival and the city's basketball team.

Geoff Ross, who is worth $35 million according to NBR after selling his vodka company 42 Below to Bacardi for $139 million, tells the magazine that the biggest mistake people make when they're trying to start a business is undercapitalising.

"They undercapitalise. They don't fully commit to it. They sort of half-commit.

"That's my own criticism of myself - I wish I'd gone harder, faster, sooner and bigger."

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 25 Nov 2014 07:09:01 Processing Time: 1403ms