Business Leaders of the year: Geoff Ross

42 Below founder

The star of 42 Below founder shone bright in 2006 as it was announced that Bacardi wanted to pay $138 million for the business he started in a Wellington garage.

The offer - due to close on December 15 and conditional on Bacardi getting 90 per cent - will see Ross and related interests pocket more than $30 million if successful, and he will get to stay on with the firm.

"It shows that we can create all sorts of great New Zealand businesses here - not just meat carcasses and milk powder," Ross, 39, said as the deal was announced.

The company's website posted a message - "We are totally f***ing loaded." - in the wake of the announcement, a reflection of the brash and cheeky approach Ross brought to his marketing.

However, 42 Below has subsequently faced questions over whether the principals of US distributor Panache are getting a better price than others for their 42 Below shares. Ross said the principals were not getting a sweetheart deal and that 42 Below's independent directors had advice saying the arrangement did not constitute an extra payment.

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