Shortly after the release of the 2011 NBR Rich List, the Irish property magnate divested himself of ownership of Queenstown’s Coronet Peak Station. Mr Cleary sold the Crown pastoral lease on the 22,211ha station to music producer Robert “Mutt” Lange (Shania Twain’s ex-husband.)
Sale of the lease took the number of Mr Lange’s South Island high country holdings to four. At the same time Mr Cleary – previously regarded as a disinterested landowner – was pursuing his many telecoms, biofuel agriculture and retail ventures abroad. He has interests in Australia, Argentina, Chile and eastern Europe. All this for a man from County Monaghan, who left school at the age of 11.
Malta-based Mr Cleary does, however, still own land in New Zealand, including several Arrowtown and Queenstown commercial buildings. The Sunday Times Rich List said Mr Cleary made most of his fortune in New Zealand, buying land in the 1990s and converting it to dairy farms.
This year, it posted his worth at £268 million – No 29 on its list.