Watson accident on skifield confirmed

Eric Watson. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Eric Watson. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Businessman Eric Watson is reported to have broken his back while skiing in the Swiss Alps, and is recovering in a Zurich hospital following an operation.

Truth Weekender editor Chris Baldock told Radio Live today the accident was believed to have happened last week.

"I think it was a very bad wipeout by all accounts while he was skiing, and in terms of the injury, what's been reported back to our sources, is that he was very lucky," Mr Baldock said. "If the breakage had occurred higher up, ie at the bottom of the neck, then he would have been in very serious trouble."

The break was just at the top of the back, below the base of the neck. Mr Watson - co-founder of Hanover Finance - was not going to be paralysed and was apparently recuperating quite well.

A spokeswoman for his New Zealand company Cullen Investments Ltd, Jayne Hoffman, confirmed Watson had an accident while skiing.

"He is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries. There will be no further comment on this personal matter," Ms Hoffman said.

Watson was criticised by Hanover investors last year when he failed to return to New Zealand to oversee the deal which saw his failed finance company sell its assets to Allied Farmers.

Watson was labelled "chicken-livered" and a "shyster" by investors at meeting of Hanover investors, last year.

Hanover Group froze the funds of more than 16,000 investors worth more than $500 million in 2008. In March last year Hanover Finance sold its stake in FAI Money to interests associated with Watson and Hotchin just months before they did a deal to sell Hanover Finance and United Finance to NZX-listed Allied Farmers.

Allied wrote-down the assets of Hanover by $220 million last month.

- NZ HERALD ONLINE, NZPA

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