Infratil has been crowned Company of the Year and Skellerup's David Mair named Chief Executive of the Year at the prestigious Deloitte Top 200 Awards.
Rocket Lab founder, CEO and chief engineer Peter Beck took out the coveted Visionary Leader award.
In its 32nd year, the Deloitte Top 200 Awards are a showcase of the very best of New Zealand business and business leaders. They celebrate the depth and range of our business community, featuring the industries and sectors that underpin our country's success.
This year, the awards recognise outstanding results despite the ongoing challenges resulting from Covid-19, including companies and leaders from the manufacturing, retail, media, and energy sectors, all showcasing their commercial strength and agility during challenging times.
Infratil had an outstanding year in 2021, further enhancing its reputation as a savvy infrastructure and utilities investor. The company was active with its portfolio, divesting Tilt Renewables and investing in diagnostic imaging firm Pacific Radiology.
The panel of high-profile judges — convened by NZME editorial director of business Fran O'Sullivan — said Infratil's combination of strong performances with its investment companies, especially data centres, along with its divestments and new acquisitions have added significant shareholder value over 2021.
"In addition, the company went through a fairly seamless transition of CEO from Marko Bogoievski to Jason Boyes and won the takeover battle with Aussie Super," say the judges.
"While Infratil has been an excellent long-term performer, its total shareholder return of 65 per cent stands out."
Another long-term performer is Skellerup Holdings, and this year its CEO David Mair took out the award for Chief Executive Officer of the Year.
The designer, manufacturer and distributor of engineered products has been led by Mair for over 10 years, and during his tenure has achieved significant revenue and earnings growth by focusing on designing and delivering critical engineered products for OEM customers.
"David is a steady pair of hands at Skellerup," say the judges.
"He has a knack for presenting a soft, inclusive, popular leadership style with people and in strategy, but has a hands-on near fanatical knowledge of process, plant and equipment, and design for Skellerup's manufacturing customers."
The Visionary Leader award is one of just two awards made without finalists. This year, the award went to founder, CEO and chief engineer of Rocket Lab, Peter Beck.
The judges recognised Beck for taking New Zealand into the world of space and becoming a global leader who is redefining the space industry with ambitions that now stretch as far as Mars and Venus. Last August, Rocket Lab listed on the Nasdaq, where its market capitalisation climbed to $7.33 billion as it raised $1.14b to fund the next phase of Beck's bold space journey — a proud Kiwi moment and bold visionary leadership from a 'boy from Invercargill'.
Having been a finalist in the category in 2020, Patrick Strange was named this year's Chairperson of the Year. Chair of Auckland International Airport and Chorus, he is highly regarded as an inclusive chair who brings out the best in his fellow directors and management teams.
The judges say that over the past year, Strange has taken a leadership position in the New Zealand business community by speaking up on areas where it might not have been easy — including on aspects of the Government's Covid-19 response. He also responded robustly to aspects of the Commerce Commission's proposed price and quality control settings for Chorus' ultrafast broadband network.
Mercury's William Meek has been awarded Chief Financial Officer of the Year. Meek's career with Mercury spans 20 years and he has served as CFO for almost 15 of those, coming into the role prior to the successful float of the company in 2013.
The judges describe Meek as a highly competent CFO who thoroughly understands the financial statements of Mercury and knows how it creates value.
"Meek has delivered exceptional long and short-term impacts for Mercury," they say. "He supported the company's CEO in delivering superior shareholder returns and in 2021 helped execute Mercury's successful efforts to enhance its presence in renewable generation and retail sales through two strategic acquisitions."
NZME took out the Most Improved Performance award this year. The integrated media company - owner of the NZ Herald, Newstalk ZB, property website OneRoof and a suite of entertainment radio brands - has put a plan in place to transform into a digitally focused media business, and this turnaround strategy has seen digital revenue play an increasingly significant role in the company's earnings.
"The market has responded positively to this strategy, with the share price climbing from a low of 18 cents in April 2020 to above $1.40 by the end of 2021," say the judges.
Vulcan Steel has been recognised with the Best Growth Strategy award. The judges say the steel distribution company's growth strategy has resulted in superior absolute and relative performance in the highly competitive steel distribution sector on both sides of the Tasman.
"It has executed both parts of its growth programme well with an annual revenue growth of 8 per cent and net profit growth of 38 per cent posted in the last five years," they say.
"Vulcan is on track for another record year in 2022."
Tourism Holdings' Ollie Farnsworth has been awarded the title of Young Executive of the Year. With the tourism industry facing significant challenges in the last 18 months, Farnsworth approached tough issues of cost reduction and revenue generation with a constructive outlook in his role as chief commercial & customer officer.
"An innovative mindset has seen Ollie identify and effectively execute on new business opportunities including the well-known Get Moving to Get New Zealand Moving campaign," say the judges. "His energy and empathy for customers and his people shines through in his leadership approach."
Te Ru¯nanga o Nga¯ i Tahu (Nga¯i Tahu) took out the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership award for its Cultural Confidence Programme, an innovative and comprehensive response to a very specific diversity and inclusion challenge.
"Nga¯i Tahu's purpose — 'Mo¯ ta¯tou, a¯, mo¯ ka¯ uri a¯ muri ake nei — For us and our children after us' — had the unintended consequence of raising doubts in the minds of their staff who are not of Nga¯i Tahu descent, about the company's commitment to them," said the judges.
Kathmandu won the Sustainable Business Leadership award, which recognises businesses working toward the creation of long-term environmental, social and economic value.
The judges also chose to award a special judges' award to Air New Zealand, in recognition of the airline's efforts of the past two years. The judges praised all the airline's employees who have strived to respond to the enormous challenges brought about by Covid-19, and in doing so have maintained strong support for the brand and service offering of the airline.
• The financial figures for the Top 200 entities and Top 30 financial institutions are produced in full in the Dynamic Business 2020 report, published in tomorrow's edition of the NZ Herald and online here.