Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

NBR rich list: Burger baron dining at top table

Several newcomers on list while Hart stays at number one

Graeme Hart, left, remains NZ's richest man with more than $7b, Victoria Ransom is NZ's richest woman with $300m and burger baron Josef Roberts makes his list debut.
Graeme Hart, left, remains NZ's richest man with more than $7b, Victoria Ransom is NZ's richest woman with $300m and burger baron Josef Roberts makes his list debut.

Burgers and Red Bull have propelled Josef Roberts on to the 2014 National Business Review Rich List with a $100 million fortune from introducing New Zealanders to the energy drink before switching attention to BurgerFuel.

The 52-year-old is one of 13 newcomers to the rich list, whose individuals and families collectively passed $50 billion in wealth for the first time.

Their combined wealth of $51.2 billion in 2014 is more than double that of the 2004 list, which came in at $22.3 billion, and well up on last year's $47.9 billion.

Not surprisingly, Graeme Hart retains his number one spot with a $7 billion fortune ($6.4 billion last year), made largely from packaging investments, which pays for a $30 million cliff-top mansion in Glendowie, property on Waiheke Island and two superyachts.

Mr Hart is followed by Waikato-raised investor Richard Chandler whose Singapore-based Chandler Corporation invests globally and widely in public and private equities.

He is worth $3.2 billion.

This pair are followed by two of New Zealand's most successful families - the Wellington-based Todd family with extensive energy and other investments ($3.1 billion) and Auckland's Erceg family, whose head Michael Erceg built the Independent Liquor business before being killed in a helicopter crash in 2005. The family are worth $1.6 billion.

Ponsonby-based Mr Roberts describes himself as "self taught and from the school of hard knocks".

Watch our 2012 interview with Josef Roberts in the
One to Watch: Josef Roberts, Business leaders series


"Life is enormously challenging but exciting, and I have learned that many things are possible if one can overcome fear, especially the fear of criticism and failure, which hold many Kiwis back in my view.

"My philosophy in life is that I believe it's easy to look back but much harder to look forward to the future, so every day I try and see something of the future," he said.

He was bankrupt before turning 30, but bounced back and introduced New Zealanders and Australians to Red Bull, before selling the rights back to the company in 2002.

Mr Roberts then turned his attention to Burger Fuel and together with founder Chris Mason took the company to the world.

He now owns more than 50 per cent of the publicly listed fast food outlet and has a portfolio of commercial and residential properties.

Food is producing other new names on the list. Waikato's Jim van der Poel, Hawkes Bay's Craig Hickson and Nelson-based Tom Sturgess have all done well out of farming.

The top woman on the Rich List is San Francisco-based expatriate Victoria Ransom who sits at 36th equal with $300 million from selling her social media company Wildfire to Google in 2012.

Ms Ransom, who was born and raised in Scotts Ferry, a small town in Manawatu, told Fortune magazine in 2012 she would stay with Google for a few years, but saw another start-up or working for a non-profit company in the future. She told the Herald last year: "I am busier, but I don't think I have fundamentally changed."

John Key, the wealthiest Prime Minister in New Zealand history with $55 million stashed away from his money trading days, is joined this year by another National MP, Ian McKelvie, who has accumulated $50 million from farming, giving him a ranking of 163rd equal.

A noticeable absentee from the rich list is Kim Dotcom, whose wealth is hard to ascertain.

Other well-known names on the list are Sir Peter Jackson ($600 million - ranked 15), Sir Owen Glenn ($450 million - 22), Eric Watson ($400 million - 26=), and Sir Patrick Hogan ($120 million - 100=).

Michael Friedlander, the property mogul who wants to remove three villas in Auckland's Franklin Rd for development, has increased his fortune from $950 million to $1.2 billion and risen from seventh last year to fifth equal on this year's list. The NBR Rich List goes on sale tomorrow.

2014 NBR Rich List

Graeme Hart (above) $7b
Richard Chandler $3.2b
Todd family $3.1b
Erceg family $1.6b
5 =
Christopher Chandler $1.2b
Michael Friedlander $1.2b
Goodman family $1.1b
Stephen Jennings $950m
Sir Douglas Myers $900m
10 =
Sir Michael Fay $830m
David Richwhite $830m
Josef Roberts $100m

- NZ Herald

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