Nominees for 2009 New Zealander of the Year: Business

Rob Fyfe makes a virtue of keeping Air New Zealand nimble and quick to respond to market trends. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Rob Fyfe makes a virtue of keeping Air New Zealand nimble and quick to respond to market trends. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The following business people were nominees for the 2009 New Zealander of the Year - Business:

* Rob Fyfe
* Paul Reynolds
* Simon Challies
* Jeremy Moon
* Rod Drury
* Alison Paterson
* Diane Foreman
* George Hickton
* Investment Bankers

Rob Fyfe

AIR NEW ZEALAND
CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Rob Fyfe this year did what his predecessors had failed to do - he did the decent thing and apologised for the airline's behaviour following the Erebus tragedy.

That got the most headlines, but relatively quietly this year the airline has survived the most severe aviation slump in history in profit and in good shape for 2010, with new planes on order and a makeover coming.

Fyfe makes a virtue of keeping the airline nimble and quick to respond to market trends. It cut capacity early in the downward cycle and was able to reap those benefits during the year.

Investors gave him the big tick - Air NZ's share has climbed from 85c a year ago to $1.21 yesterday. Fyfe was a key participant in the employment summit early this year and has preserved jobs at the airline, largely avoiding the mass layoffs other carriers have imposed.

Paul Reynolds

TELECOM
CHIEF EXECUTIVE

With an inclusive style and strength behind his continued makeover at Telecom, Paul Reynolds is once again among the top business leaders.

Twice the bridesmaid and not yet the bride - he has yet to prove that the radical changes to the values structure and management can be incorporated into better value for shareholders.

Telecom would have been foolhardy to resist the political and consumer momentum for change that sometimes seemed to be driven by a wish to punish Telecom for past anti-competitive misbehaviour.

But without Reynolds' leadership style Telecom would have been in much worse shape after its structural separation.

Simon Challies

RYMAN HEALTHCARE
CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Simon Challies has been described by institutional investors as one of the year's outstanding performers.

He runs the national retirement village chain from Christchurch. Ryman, with a $1 billion market capitalisation, last month posted a realised profit of $29 million for the half-year to September 30, up 12 per cent.

Unrealised property valuation increases lifted reported profit to $38.5 million, up 10 per cent.

On the NZX this year the company has been one of the standouts with a return of 53 per cent since January 1.

Jeremy Moon

ICEBREAKER
CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Moon's clothing company, Icebreaker, is the epitome of a successful New Zealand business - it sells a unique product globally, at a high price, with a very strong brand.

The company benchmarks itself against the best in the world in every respect. Moon is not much of a talker, but he's a good listener, and one of his smartest moves has been hiring a panel of strong advisers.

As a result, the business can no longer be dismissed as a cute little boutique outfit.

Rod Drury

TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEUR

Drury is that rare beast in New Zealand - a serial entrepreneur.

But after years of building up businesses and flicking them on, he's determined his latest venture, online accounting company Xero, will capture a global market while keeping its roots here.

The IT veteran has also become a vocal advocate for public listings, at a time when the public markets have never been so unpopular.

No doubt that's part of the reason the NZX invited him to join its board.

Alison Paterson

ABANO HEALTHCARE
CHAIRWOMAN

Alison Paterson has steered the listed private medical-care company through one of this year's biggest deals - selling the New Zealand audiology assets to Australian private equity firm Crescent Capital for $157.8 million. The sale will see $70 million returned to shareholders this year. She is also on the board of Vector and Metrowater and is deputy chairwoman of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. In 1976 Paterson was the first woman to join the board of a publicly-listed company when she was appointed to the Apple & Pear Marketing Board.

Diane Foreman

ENTREPRENEUR

Diane Foreman's hard work has already been recognised this year. She has won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Trade & Enterprise best international business gong for a business with turnover of between $10 million and $50 million. Her Emerald Group is responsible for the success of the New Zealand Natural ice cream brand which has 680 stores in 21 countries. Foreman, who left school at 15, joined the Trigon Holdings board after former husband Bill suffered a stroke in 1990.

She rose to become chief executive and negotiated the sale of the company to United States interests for $130 million.

George Hickton

TOURISM NEW ZEALAND
OUTGOING CHIEF EXECUTIVE

George Hickton last week stepped down after 10 years at the helm of New Zealand's marketing body - Tourism New Zealand - after facing one of the toughest years in history. Not only did the industry have to deal with the effects of the financial crisis but it was also hit by swine flu.

Hickton and his team have focused on marketing to Australia this year - a highly successful move that has boosted Australian visitor numbers over the one million mark and helped limit the effects of the downturn. Hickton is well respected and well liked within the industry.

Investment Bankers

FUND RAISERS

In the UK and US investment bankers have been cast as the villains of the 2008 financial crisis.

But in New Zealand in 2009 they have done an outstanding job of raising cash for local companies at a time when they needed it for their survival.

More than $3 billion was raised in the listed debt market alone in conditions which could be described as the toughest in living memory.

Goldman Sachs and First NZ Capital have led the way on the bigger more difficult deals, pulling some rabbits out of hats when things have looked almost impossible.

- NZ Herald

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