Mark Fryer 's Opinion

Mark Fryer is the editor of the Herald's Friday section, The Business.

2012: The way it was

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Lethargic, listless, plodding ... we could keep working through the thesaurus, but there's no need — everyone knows this wasn't the greatest of years. For many businesses, just getting through was a major achievement. Not that everyone did it tough: house prices reignited, the banks had a good year, as did the enforcers — even the sharemarket. If the partial sale of state-owned assets was a non-event, at least Fonterra made it to the market, and NZX50 investors enjoyed a stellar 22 per cent return. If it's already a bit of a blur, here's our guide to how things were in 2012.

Ex-Bridgecorp chief Rod Petricevic got a six-year jail sentence in May. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Ex-Bridgecorp chief Rod Petricevic got a six-year jail sentence in May. Photo / Paul Estcourt

JANUARY

Selling out, #1
Philanthropist and bon vivant Owen Glenn sells OTS Logistics, the company he founded with $2000 in 1978. How much? "A little less" than $500 million.

Selling out, #2
Motorcyclist, intrepid explorer and conservationist Gareth Morgan sells his investment company to Kiwibank. How much? Between $50 million and $100 million, says the gossip; "a shitload of dough", says Gareth.

Stay a little longer
Disgraced National Finance boss Trevor Allan Ludlow, already serving five years, seven months in jail courtesy of the Serious Fraud Office, gets another nine months on charges brought by the Financial Markets Authority.

Selling the farm
Ministers Maurice Williamson and Jonathan Coleman put their stamp on the Overseas Investment Office decision allowing China's Shanghai Pengxin to buy the 16 Crafar farms.

Casting off
Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard says that after a decade in the job, he won't try for a third term.


FEBRUARY

Exchanging places
Tim Bennett named as new head of the NZX, replacing Mark Weldon in the Stock Exchange's top job.

Crisis, what crisis?
Core earnings at the five major banks hit $2.8 billion in the second half of 2011, says PWC - up 22 per cent on their first half results.

Sadly missed
Infratil founder, Kiwi patriot and snappy dresser Lloyd Morrison dies in Seattle after a three-year battle with cancer, aged 54.

Think again
High Court Justice Forrest Miller embarrasses the Government by overturning the ministerial approval for Shanghai Pengxin to buy the Crafar farms.

Fall from grace
Lombard Finance directors - including ex-Cabinet ministers Sir Douglas Graham and Bill Jeffries - found guilty of making untrue statements in its offer documents.


MARCH

The rest he just wasted
Christchurch businessman Gavin Bennett pleads guilty to a $103 million fraud which targeted South Canterbury Finance, to fund a life of wine, women and luxury.

Super ministry
Government announces merger of the ministries of Economic Development, and Science & Innovation, and departments of Building & Housing, and Labour. While civil servants face the axe, the ministers concerned are spared.

Any day now
Labour Department predicts 94,000 new jobs in the next two years.

Life, liberty and saturated fat
Five months after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, BurgerFuel announces move into Libya.

Sohole to nohole
Contractors start moving 24,000cu m of dirt to Ponsonby, to fill in part of the chasm left by excavation for the failed Soho Square project.


APRIL

Double thinking
Launch of the New Zealand Initiative think tank, formed by merger of the Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute.

Leaving the field
Auckland Super 15 chairman Greg Muir stands down from the board, citing "other business matters". The resignation comes after he is named among six people facing action by the Financial Markets Authority, over events at Hanover Finance.

Round trip
Auckland Airport chief executive Simon Moutter is named as the new head of Telecom, rejoining the slimmed-down company he left nearly four years ago.

Anyone but China
After a court-ordered Government rethink, Shanghai Pengxin again wins the OK to buy the Crafar Farms. In a survey, Kiwis say they'd rather the properties went to the group led by controversial asset-stripper Sir Michael Fay.


MAY

Withering on the vine
The disease Psa-V will cost the kiwifruit industry up to $885 million and destroy hundreds of jobs, says a damage estimate from Lincoln University.

Good news, bad news
Commerce Commission approves Sky TV's Igloo joint venture with TVNZ, only to announce an investigation into Sky's deals with internet service providers.

Another one down
Former Bridgecorp finance director Robert Roest gets the same deal as ex-managing director Rod Petricevic - 6 years' jail.

Pulling the plug
Meridian Energy abandons planned dam on the West Coast's Mokihinui River, partly to prepare for partial sale of the state-owned enterprise.

Landslide Ron
Sir Ron Brierley keeps his seat on the Guinness Peat board by the narrowest of margins: 50.75 per cent to 49.25 per cent.


JUNE

Reversal of fortune
For the first time in eight years, the Business Herald Executive Pay Survey reveals a fall in the average chief executive pay packet - down 0.4 per cent in the 2011 financial year, compared with the year before.

Pokie probe
Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith confirms there'll be an inquiry into the way the Government sought proposals for the Auckland convention centre, won by SkyCity.

Milk trade
Fonterra members OK the Trading Among Farmers scheme, clearing the way for the biggest change yet to the 11-year-old dairy co-op.

Monetary maestro
Graeme Wheeler is named Alan Bollard's successor as Governor of the Reserve Bank.

Scot free
Telecom boss Paul Reynolds leaves after five years, and taking it through a split into two separate companies.


JULY

Emission statement
Government postpones key stages of the Emissions Trading Scheme, saying consumers and businesses just can't afford it.

Share gain
Former Stock Exchange chief executive Mark Weldon gets $12.5 million by selling 9.5 million NZX shares acquired through the company's executive share scheme.

Phone connection
Vodafone NZ buys TelstraClear for $840 million, putting it in a position to challenge Telecom's dominance.

Captain hooked
Ex-Bridgecorp boss Rod Petricevic has four months added to his 6-year jail term, for charges relating to the use of company cash to buy a $1.8 million luxury launch.

Gone south
Serious Fraud Office head Adam Feeley quits after three years, heading to Queenstown and a new job leading the Lakes District Council.


AUGUST

Cutting the cable
Pacific Fibre cancels plans for a second international fibre cable, after failing to raise the necessary capital.

Kiwi makes good
Tech company Wildfire, co-founded by NZ expat Victoria Ransom, is bought by Google for a reported US$250 million ($307 million).

Not shy, just retiring
Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan plans to step down in January after 10 years of encouraging Kiwis to save, and governments to face the facts on superannuation.

Off the boil
Partial privatisation of state-owned coal company Solid Energy is put on the back burner, thanks to falling global coal prices.

$6 million (a year) man
Former Telecom boss Paul Reynolds gets $12 million in his final year, bringing his total earnings to almost $30 million in five years.


SEPTEMBER

Raising the bar
Capital + Merchant Finance's Wayne Leslie Douglas and Neal Medhurst Nicholls take the record for the longest sentences handed down to errant finance company directors: 7 years apiece.

Bowing to the inevitable
PM John Key announces that the Government will postpone the partial sale of Mighty River Power until the second quarter of next year.

Haier purchase
F&P Appliances says China's Haier wants to make a full takeover bid for the Kiwi whiteware maker.

Paper cuts
Norske Skog to halve newsprint production at its Tasman Mill in Kawerau, closing one of two paper machines.

Knacker's yard
It's goodbye to the black horse, as ANZ announces plans to drop the National Bank brand.


OCTOBER

Open
Trade Me rival Wheedle launches, October 1.

And shut
Trade Me rival Wheedle closes indefinitely, October 2, after a security flaw is revealed.

Own goal
The Government's plan to develop "a new Zealand country story" to boost tourism starts with the obvious first step - hiring a mostly Australian design agency.

Privatisation pays
Mighty River Power chief executive Doug Heffernan is to get a $500,000 "one-off retention payment" for steering the business through to public-private ownership.

B'On belief
Aucklander Jacqui Bradley sentenced to 7 years and five months, after swindling 28 investors out of some $15.5 million through her and her late husband's business, B'On Financial Services.


NOVEMBER

Whiteware sale
Haier wins the fight for F&P Appliances, after lifting its offer from $1.20 to $1.28 a share.

Jobs shocker
The unemployment rate takes a widely-unanticipated turn for the worse, hitting 7.3 per cent in the September quarter - the worst for 13 years.

Market froth
The NZX gets its first Initial Public Offering of the year, with the float of brewer Moa Group.

Without a trace
Investigators can find only $11.5 million of the $449.6 million that 900 investors supposedly have with Wellington's Ross Asset Management.

Cows and stags
The Fonterra Shareholders Fund arrives on the NZX with a roar, as $5.50 units fetch up to $6.95.

More than Xero
US investors lift their stake in online-accounting firm Xero by $82 million.


DECEMBER

Mourning Chorus
Shares in the lines company Chorus fall by 14.4 per cent, wiping almost $190 million off its value, after Commerce Commission announcements on how much it can charge wholesale customers.

Running dry
Brazilian energy giant Petrobras surrenders its permit to explore for oil and gas off the North Island's East Coast.

Banker's honour
Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler rejects claims from the Greens that his comments on bank profits show he is biased in favour of the companies he regulates.

House hunting
Fonterra seeks proposals for a new HQ building befitting its status - a move that promises a $100 million-plus boost for Auckland's building industry.

Bargain buy?
The Warehouse lays out $65 million for 92 Noel Leeming and Bond & Bond stores, taking the appliance retail chain off the hands of Australian private equity firm Gresham Group.

- NZ Herald

Mark Fryer

Mark Fryer is the editor of the Herald's Friday section, The Business.

Mark Fryer is the editor of the Herald's Friday section, The Business. He is a veteran of business journalism in New Zealand and the New Zealand Herald. He is especially interested in long form journalism that seeks to go behind the daily headlines of business journalism. His aim for The Business is to broaden the appeal of business news to a wider audience.

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