At No 189 on Forbes’ billionaires list, Mr Abramov would probably have his pick of international properties to choose from.
The Russian minerals mogul – estimated by Forbes to be worth $US5.4 billion – clearly likes the look of Northland. He forked out $15.9 million for a patch of land in Helena Bay, north of Whangarei, from which is rising what could be the country’s most expensive residence.
Mr Abramov, who graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, once worked as head of a Russian research lab. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he began exporting metals and coal from the Urals and Siberia, amassing a substantial fortune upon which he has continued to build.
Together with fellow billionaire Alexander Frolov, Mr Abramov founded Evraz Plc in 2008. The steel company, which Mr Abramov chairs, debuted on the London Stock Exchange last November.
His antipodean address is expected to be costing as much as $40 million. Built on 214 hectares at Helena Bay, the property is said to rival the $35 million Chrisco mansion in Coatesville, owned by fellow NBR Rich Lister Richard Bradley and tenanted by Kim Dotcom.
To secure rights to buy and build in New Zealand, Mr Abramov had to meet certain Overseas Investment Office conditions – among them that he build a two hectare wetland sanctuary for the patake – the national endangered brown teal duck.
To enable better access to his fishing boat, he has been granted permission to build a 233 metre walkway with a 14 metre long, 3.6 metre floating pontoon at the northern end of Helena Bay.
The publicity-shy oils oligarch plans to visit his Northland hideaway twice a year. Whether he brings his wife and three children is not known.
In New Zealand he’s the richest individual; on Forbes magazine’s global billionaires list, Graeme Hart is No 178.
Forbes lists Mr Hart’s net worth at $US5.7 billion – down from the $US7.5 billion he was put at last year but up seven places on his 2011 listing. That leaves the former tow truck driver slightly behind former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is at No 169, with $US5.9 billion.
Mr Hart, who owns at least $150 million in super yachts, has not found his global business ventures all smooth sailing. The North American auto-parts supplier UCI Holdings, which Mr Hart’s Auckland-based Rank Group acquired early last year, recorded a net loss of $US46.5 million for the year to December 31, 2011, on a post-acquisition basis, compared with a $US23 million profit a year earlier.
But that is hardly likely to make a dent in his expanding packaging empire, Reynolds Group Holdings. The group, which includes Carter Holt Harvey, the US-based groups Pactiv Corporation, Graham Packaging and also Swiss company SiG and International Paper’s beverage packaging unit, had amassed total assets worth $US21.89 billion as at December 31 last year. On the other side of the ledger the group is carrying $US18.1 billion of debt.
Although Mr Hart has continued to expand his overseas interests, he still keeps a firm home base. Last year he added another two properties to the portfolio of addresses he holds in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers. The purchases, all within coo-ee of each other, take to seven the number of properties he owns there – the biggest of which is the $30 million 2ha clifftop spot he shares with his wife Robin.
Earlier this year Mr Hart ceased being a director of Carter Holt Harvey. He had been on the board since his Rank Group bought the company in 2005.
Things are increasingly on the up for Richard Chandler, one of just three New Zealanders to gain a place on the Forbes Rich List.
Last year, he sat at No 288 on the definitive international billionaires’ list; this year he accelerated to 230, with Forbes putting his wealth at $US4.6 billion. That is still a long way from the top spot, held by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim ($US69 billion) but it’s a long way, too, from Mr Chandler’s rural Waikato beginnings.
It was there in 1986 that he and brother Christopher – this year No 1153 on Forbes with a wealth of $US1 billion – sold the family department store and launched their mightily-successful investment vehicle, Sovereign Global. The Sovereign group of companies had an international reach.
Two decades later, the brothers parted business company but both continued to separately develop substantial interests offshore. For Richard Chandler, those ventures have included the Singapore-based Richard Chandler Corporation (RCC.) Its mission? “To build prosperity for tomorrow’s world.”
He is also the founder of Freedom to Create, a body established to “foster prosperity in the developing world by investing in the creative foundations in society and the Freedom to Create Prize – an international award that celebrates the power of the arts.
His philanthropic interests extend to an education fund, which has programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
As well, the beekeeper’s son supports Sir Edmund Hillary’s development agency, the Himalaya Trust, in Nepal.
Regarded as a canny investor, with a reputation for identifying undervalued assets and emerging markets, Mr Chandler earlier this year announced plans to pour $A150 million into troubled Tasmanian timber company Gunns. The company wanted to develop a pulp mill, which had won state government support but it was strenuously opposed by environmentalists.
The RCC bid, which would have seen the company hold 39% of Gunns’ shares, was withdrawn midway through valuation.
Richard Chandler continues to make his home base in Singapore.
Once considered the “Wizard of Wall St,” the hedge fund tycoon has now found a second home closer to Oz.
Born in North Carolina, in the US, Mr Robertson, 80, has a piece of his heart in New Zealand. He and his late wife, Josie, have an entire wing in Auckland’s refurbished Art Gallery in their name. The pair have donated 15 paintings – by Picasso, Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse and Mondrian – to the gallery on their death. The collection has an estimated value of $115 million.
There are also the Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers luxury golfing resorts he owns, as well as several New Zealand wineries. Mr Robertson is also believed to have given $5 million to the Christchurch earthquake recovery effort.
Last year, Mr Robertson had a knighthood conferred upon him. He said he felt so close to New Zealand he considered himself part-Kiwi.
Based in New York, Mr Robertson made his money through Tiger Management, which became one of the world’s biggest hedge funds, peaking at $US23 billion invested in 1998. After closing the fund in 2000, he pioneered the seeding and mentoring of hand-picked hedge funds, known as Tiger Clubs, of which there are now 40.
This year he sits at No 164 on the Forbes billionaires list, with a net worth of $US2.5 billion.
He recently offered his advice on his investment strategy to Columbia Business School’s newsletter. “I believe that the best way to manage money is to go long and short stocks,” he said. “My theory is that if the 50 best stocks you can come up with don’t outperform the 50 worst stocks you can come up with, you should be in another business.
“For my shorts, I look for a bad management team and a wildly overvalued company that is declining or misunderstood.”
When he resigned as chairman of Todd Corporation last December, John Todd said goodbye to 66 years of employment. One month later he said hello to a knighthood.
Sir John, who started out in the family business as a spot welder at the Todd Motors plant in Petone, was knighted for services to business. He had chaired the Todd Corporation since 1987.
His eponymous corporation has interests covering oil, gas and power, property, wine and a large stake in Sky Television. The family also has a large stake in Australian wireless infrastructure firm Crown Castle Australia.
Energy makes up more than half the group – and that all started from what Sir John calls a “fluke” – striking gas first time at Taranaki’s Kapuni field. The Energy business now encompasses natural gas, oil, LPG, electricity, cogeneration and solar hot water systems.
In an interview recorded after he was dubbed, Sir John said Energy would not have its position today if it had not started off with 25% of Kapuni.
The family company, which began when Sir John’s grandfather Charles set up a number of ventures including a north Otago car dealership, continues to broaden its scope. Earlier this year King Country Energy signed a deal with Todd Energy to take full control of Mangahao’s power station. In May, Todd Capital took a 25% stake in a West Australian titano-magnetite iron ore development.
Sir John, meanwhile, is not putting his feet up. He’s keeping a desk at the family firm, from which he is pursuing philanthropic interests.
On his retirement, he said his family was characterised by a quote from Scottish writer John Buchan, who said success was due to: “a good stomach, capacity for hard work, and a fair measure of good luck.”
At No 1153 on the Forbes Rich List, Christopher Chandler sits 923 places below his brother, Richard. However, Christopher Chandler can still lay claim to a tidy sum. Forbes put his wealth at $US1 billion – thereby just qualifying him for billionaire status.
The younger Chandler, who once boarded with his brother at Auckland Grammar, is now based in Dubai. Since the fraternal business split of six years ago he has amassed his fortunes largely through Legatum Capital, a private portfolio investment firm, also with Dubai headquarters.
Through Legatum, Christopher Chandler has focused on socially sustainable enterprises, such as microfinance. It also supports entrepreneurship initiatives in Africa and has led the Africa Awards for entrepreneurship. Legatum, together with other international philanthropists, including the Gates Foundation, has established the donor-advised END fund, dedicated to the eradication of neglected tropical diseases.
Earlier this year, the Legatum group established new global headquarters in Dubai.
He has a law degree from the University of Washington and made his money from US property and specialty finance industries.
The title insurance firm he founded in Phoenix, Arizona, grew to become the largest in the country. In 2004 he earned No 4 spot on Forbes’ list of CEO compensation, earning $US179.56 million that year.)
But it’s his love of wine and food that brought Mr Foley to these shores.
Now head of Foley Family Wines, he owns Vavasour, Goldwater, Dashwood, Redwood Pass, Te Kairanga and Clifford Bay wine brands in New Zealand, along with a vast number of California wineries.
Mr Foley’s other New Zealand interests include ownership of the luxury Wharekauhau Lodge in the Wairarapa. It’s here that he stays on his regular visits to these shores. Hollywood director James Cameron is a neighbour but the two aren’t exactly swapping yarns over the fence.
Mr Foley wishes to expand and entrench his New Zealand connections. He’s looking to build an owner’s cottage on the Wharekauhau estate and to extend his wine business here. At last count he was looking at producing 650,000 cases a year and to export to Australia, the US and Canada. And he recently announced plans to buy 80% of the $46.5 million wine group called the New Zealand Wine Company.
There are also expansion plans for the luxury lodge industry. “I’d probably be interested in other lodges, just to get a little more depth,” Mr Foley says. Specifically, he’s looking at the Bay of Islands and Queenstown: “so if people came to New Zealand they could do the whole trip.”
What does he think of the billionaire label? “Someone said if you know how much you’re worth, you’re not worth very much.”
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.
The British aristocrat and widow of the 14th Duke of Bedford has made New Zealand her principal home. She and her late husband, Henry Robin Ian Russell, first arrived 20 years ago. The couple chose Matamata as their residential place of preference over addresses including the ancestral family home of Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, England.
In the Waikato, they established the Bloomsbury Stud, which proved immensely successful, producing winners including Tavistock and Precedence.
Henrietta, nee Tiarks – a former model and society “it” girl of the 1950s – sold the Bloomsbury bloodstock in 2007, four years after her husband’s death. At that time, the family fortune was put at $US620 million in the Sunday Times Rich List.
In 2010, the dowager duchess and her son Andrew Russell, the current Duke of Bedford, sold their successful English stud at Woburn. The 45-year-old breeding nursery was highly regarded as an address that raised or sold prized stake winners, including the G2 winner Danceabout.
Last year the 15th Duke of Bedford’s wealth was put at £520 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
In New Zealand, Henrietta is believed to have been behind a consortium – members of which included the current duke – that bought a number of inner-city Invercargill commercial properties. She is also said to have invested more than £20 million in other extensive real estate deals elsewhere in New Zealand.
Should the family find itself short of a bob or two, it could always resort to having a quick art auction of perhaps just one of the works hanging in the family home. One painting, abandoned high on a library wall in the private apartments at Woburn Abbey, was earlier this year confirmed as a genuine and authenticated Rembrandt. The identification puts the work – known as The Old Rabbi – in the multi million pound bracket. (A portrait of a young man by Rembrandt set a world record when it sold for £20 million at Christie’s in 2009).
The Dowager Duchess, who declined to be interviewed, has homes in Matamata and Parnell. She maintains close ties with the racing set.
The family got the recipe right when it sold its international food manufacturing empire and moved into property investments. That was a few decades back and it went on to establish two multi-billion dollar ASX-listed companies.
Its property company, now trading under the Goodman Group, is regarded as Australia’s largest industrial and commercial property manager. The family’s latest venture – completing the sale of its Moorabbin Airport site in Melbourne – further increased its wealth. The site had originally been bought in 1998 for $10 million – considered “old money” assets that emanated from patriarch Sir Patrick Goodman’s business activities of the 1970s and 1980s.( It was Sir Patrick who founded Quality Bakers in New Zealand in 1968, which later grew into Goodman Fielder.)
The Goodman Group is also a leading logistics developer. It has plans to increase funds under management to more than $A20 billion and is eyeing China as an area for further expansion.
In New Zealand, its property interests include Ben Nevis Station.
Australian business magazine BRW also rates the Goodmans highly on its list of Australia’s wealthiest people. This year it added another $A95 million to the family’s wealth – bringing the total to $A770 million.