Business Leaders of the year: Jan Cameron

Founder of Kathmandu

The media-shy Cameron became the richest woman in New Zealand in April with the sale of Kathmandu to a consortium involving two private equity funds, Goldman Sachs JB Were and Quadrant Private Equity.

The leveraged buyout valued the company at $275 million, leaving Cameron with 49 per cent, a seat on the board and some $230 million in cash.

The outdoor apparel and equipment retailer was founded by Cameron in 1987. It now has 46 stores - 20 in New Zealand, 22 in Australia and four in Britain.

Cameron has been described as a woman who presents a very private paradox. On the one hand she is intensely reclusive, on the other she is the architect of one of New Zealand's most pervasive mass-market consumer brands.

She is New Zealand's most successful businesswoman, yet avoids mainstream business networks.

Also worth noting is that although everyone claims Cameron as New Zealand's richest woman (she is a resident) she is Australian-born.

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