Big win for comeback boy Craig Heatley
"Good to see him being honoured and hopefully he will bring a new company to the NZX shortly."Featured comment
Comeback boy status was confirmed for Sky TV founder Craig Heatley last night – he was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
Having already picked up the “master” category award, Mr Heatley (57) was one of five category winners who had a shot for the top title.
He told the audience at Auckland’s Langham Hotel he was “humbled” to receive the title.
Recalling the early days of Sky TV, when the paid-television channel was losing $1 million-a-week after the 1987 stockmarket crash, Mr Heatley said it was a challenge to convince New Zealanders to pay for something they were used to getting free.
He also thanked two colleagues at his table with whom he set out on his mini golf course ventures 20 years ago, which morphed into theme park Rainbow’s End and his Rainbow Corporation, later sold to Brierley Investments for $500 million.
Mr Heatley has also had involvement with INL, Kathmandu, Hirepool, Woosh Wireless and Masport in his corporate career.
But he is tight-lipped about his new venture in the pipeline, which could be beyond these shores.
“I’m excited about a new opportunity of worldwide significance,” he said.
Mr Heatley was the youngest-ever NBR Rich Lister when he first made the list in 1986 aged 31.
His worth was valued at $220 million on the 2011 list.
But he was dropped from this year’s list because he claimed his personal wealth was “negligible”.
Since the Rainbow Corporation days of the mid-1980s, and through the birth of Sky TV and beyond, "all assets sit with the Heatley family" and not with him personally, Mr Heatley said.
The extensive trust structure is now in the spotlight of the High Court where he is engaged in a slow-moving asset carve up with his ex-wife Katherine.
The former couple have been locked in a massive matrimonial dispute since their marriage of 20 years ended three years ago.
Mr Heatley said last night his four children were his reason to live. “Life is about love, family, friends and experiences.”
See more news of the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in NBR Print edition today.