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Fran O'Sullivan on business
Business analysis and comment from Herald columnist Fran O'Sullivan

Fran O'Sullivan: Man who lit up room great loss

Lloyd Morrison. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Lloyd Morrison. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Lloyd Morrison was a special person who lit up every room he entered. Engaging. Incurably optimistic. Stylish (he sure knew how to wear a suit). Supportive. Inspirational. Patriotic. Passionate. A realist. And a great family man who was openly proud of his five children.

These are just some of the epithets business people, politicians, work colleagues, friends, family - and the many whom Lloyd Morrison touched - used in yesterday's outpouring of loss at his untimely death.

I first met Lloyd Morrison when he was a young businessman in Wellington in the mid-1980s. It was a time of great excitement as New Zealand became exposed to international markets. He had left the broking world to chair Omnicorp, which was flicked after the 1987 crash and Morrison, still barely 30, came back to Wellington from London and launched Morrison & Co.

This took chutzpah and strategic vision. He then launched Infratil, which drove investment in infrastructure here and overseas.

In the public sphere, Morrison correctly picked that New Zealand lacked national identity and common purpose. His campaign for a new flag and measurable goals for the country to sign up for were part of that. But the politicians lacked his verve.

And I had to admire how Morrison charmed, cajoled and occasionally indulged in some mild bullying to ensure New Zealand didn't allow the stock exchange, its airports, and airlines to fall into Australian hands.

Of course, we occasionally crossed swords, but Morrison always acknowledged journalists should be vigilant and he was very supportive when I was involved in a major legal battle of my own in the 1990s.

In October, Lloyd emailed me to say his cancer had come back "big time" and he was in Seattle for more treatment. From his hospital bed he asked why I wasn't making a big fuss over the failure of John Key's Government to hold the Rena's owners to account for the disaster.

He sent links to interesting articles on US politics, green technology, and on Christopher Hitchens' own battle and trial treatment. He would have made a great editor.

Recently the postings stopped. But Lloyd Morrison made an indelible impression on this country's commercial life.

- NZ Herald

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