Business Leader of the Year: It's been a year to forget for…

Sam Magill

The carpet ride was less than magic for the former Feltex chief executive this year.

Two profit downgrades were too many, and he resigned in June, one year after it listed on the NZX.

He had been heavily criticised for boarding a plane to South Africa the day after the first downgrade to take 15 carpet dealers on a 10-day, expenses-paid safari.

He then offered himself up for a public whipping by taking his director's seat at the December 1 annual meeting, despite a resolution to vote him off the board.

Magill said he felt "morally obliged" to face shareholders after the tumultuous year, in which the share price dived from $1.70 at listing to as low as 39c.


Jim Delegat

Delegat's Wine Estate has earned the dubious distinction of being the first company to have a successful takeover bid cancelled by the High Court (since the introduction of the Takeovers Code 2001, at least).

About 80 per cent of Oyster Bay shareholders took Delegat's up on its $4 a share offer in August, but complaints by substantial shareholders Peter Yealands and David Rankin first put the takeover on hold and eventually crushed it.

Yealands and Delegat's fight for Oyster Bay has raged for eight months and may have pushed back Delegat's plan for a share float next year.

All in all, not a good year for the country's third-largest wine exporter.


Bill Falconer

Fallout from the same deal earns the chairman of Oyster Bay Marlborough Vineyards a spot on this list.

The Takeovers Panel urged the High Court to kill Delegat's Wine Estate's successful offer for Oyster Bay because of what it deemed fundamental omissions and the cumulative effect of errors in the target company statement, a document approved by Falconer and other independent directors.

It took three months until the full extent of the omissions came out. Not only were shareholders unaware that Oyster Bay's value without its grape-selling contracts to Delegat's would double to $90 million, but a more current valuation of the lands was available a week before the statement went out.


Alan Bollard

The Reserve Bank Governor spent the year wagging an admonishing finger at debt-happy spendthrift households and their bankers.

They spent the year wagging two fingers back.

In a string of monetary policy statements, official cash rate reviews, parliamentary appearances and speeches he has warned of the consequences, but people have carried on borrowing and spending like there was no tomorrow.

He has pushed up the cost of funding floating rate mortgages nine times in two years, but been frustrated by people switching to fixed-rate loans funded by overseas investors at interest rates which look cheap to us but attractive to them.


Chris Taylor

The Prime boss was full of confidence when he lured Paul Holmes for $3 million. But that confidence eroded swiftly as the show's lacklustre debut proved a high point for its ratings. Getting the free-to-air rugby rights was another of Taylor's second plans but his dealings with Sky TV ended up more intense than expected.

Late in November, Sky said it would buy Prime NZ from its Australian owners, ending the independence of a channel that had lost $76 million since its creation in 1998. Taylor hasn't stayed to hand over, leaving yesterday to become managing director of QTQ-9 Brisbane.


Andrew Ferrier

Okay, the Fonterra chief executive won't want to forget the whole year, but he might want to adopt a selective memory. There were a few highlights - farmer payouts were pretty good and deals have been done to buy a stake in Chinese dairy company Sanlu and all of Australian company Bonlac. But Fonterra has also been the unfortunate on the other side of Graeme Hart's deal-making expertise.

The dairy giant also failed in its big Australian play, the A$2 billion-plus takeover of National Foods, and its RD1 rural services business has been left out of the consolidation in that sector. It was forced to air its dirty laundry in public as the Powdergate depositions were heard in the district court. They displayed a picture of an industry rife with warring factions.

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