NBR RICH LIST 2016: The Newcomers

A record number of newcomers reflect the way New Zealand society is changing, with a mix of ethnic backgrounds represented. With special feature audio.

Greg Tomlinson
2016: $300 million

As the largest single shareholder in Heartland Bank with a 10% stake worth almost $60 million, Christchurch businessman Greg Tomlinson manages to keep an extremely low profile despite extensive business interests spanning several decades.

A self-proclaimed pioneer of the Marlborough mussel industry, Tomlinson also spent two decades building up a portfolio of 16 retirement homes between Auckland and Ashburton. The villages were consolidated into the Qualcare chain in 2005 by way of a $112 million joint venture with the Australian private equity firm Ironbridge Capital, with Tomlinson retaining a 32% stake. 

Read full profile here

Hartley Atkinson
2016: $200 million

AFT pharmaceuticals founder and chief executive Dr Hartley Atkinson was always confident he could build his company to the stage where it is now.

“One of the motivators was we [he and his wife Marree] had a wall of people who said it couldn’t be done and we were crazy. We still do to some extent. It’s always been a powerful motivator to prove we can get things done,” he says.

The company launched an initial public offering on the NZX late last year, raising $33.2 million.

AFT, which started in Atkinson’s garage nearly 20 years ago, has a market capitalisation of more than $300 million, going by its early June share price. Atkinson owns a 75% stake worth $225 million.

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Neal and Annette Plowman
Laundries, Investment
2016: $200 million

To say Neal and Annette Plowman, who made their fortune through NZ Towel Service, shun the limelight, is putting it mildly.

Since retiring in the late 1990s, the Plowmans have mostly managed to stay out of the public eye at their home in Kerikeri.

They emerged briefly in July 2007 when Neal was inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame and then another seven years later when he followed tradition by establishing his own charitable foundation.

Although unlike so many families within this tradition, the Plowmans kept their name out of it, calling the organisation Next Foundation while endowing it with $100 million to be spend on educational and environmental projects over the following 10 years.

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Danny Chan
Education, Investment
2016: $180 million

Danny Chan has had many interests over the years – fund management, flower exporting, film making and seafood processing to name a few – but one deal closed this year that catapulted him into the big league.

On the last Friday in April private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners completed its acquisition of Academic Colleges Group, an education and training company co-founded by Chan 20 years earlier.

The purchase price was reportedly $500 million, a sum that would probably reflect ACG’s enterprise value including debt.

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Kraus family
2016: $115 million

Described by NBR in 1991 as a mystery German investor, Bay of Islands resident Peter Kraus is no less of a mystery today – not least because his assets are controlled through a complex series of trusts that ultimately mean that “he owns nothing in his own right,” according to a fellow trustee.

Along with business migrant partner Willi Zieher, Kraus gained initial media attention in 1991 when the pair snapped up a controlling stake in Ebos Group, which was being unloaded by Brierley Investments. Declining to comment at the time, Zieher said he was “not very diplomatic,” while Kraus was too busy studying for a philosophy exam at Auckland University.

Since then, Ebos has gone from strength to strength through a series of acquisitions to become Australasia’s largest and most diversified healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical product supplier. In 2015, the company turned a net profit of $105.9 million on total revenues of $6.1 billion.

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Chao “Charlie” Zheng
Property, Hospitality
2016: $110 million

Chao “Charlie” Zheng has mostly flown under the radar since his arrival from China more than a decade ago, at least until he snapped up Kirkcaldie & Stains’ old Harbour City Centre building for $45.85 million in 2014.

Previously in the local news for a handful of other commercial property deals, it was only when the Wellington building’s proposed sale was being discussed at a shareholders meeting that his extensive portfolio was revealed.

Kirkcaldie’s chairman, Falcon Clouston, told the shareholders Zheng had a $200 million property portfolio, which seems to have only grown since 2014.

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Barry and Diane Rissetto
Property investment
2016: $100 million

Barry and Diane Rissetto have tried a couple of times to sell one of the country’s biggest industrial warehouses leased to Fonterra as a storage and distribution base but there have been no takers. 

The massive 21,450sq m shed near Timaru port was built by the port company PrimePort specifically for Fonterra and it can store 35,000 tonnes of milk powder.

Barry Rissetto says the property has virtually paid for itself and, when he couldn’t sell it, he decided to hang on to it.  The property is part of the Rissettos’ wide, mainly industrial, property portfolio. The couple started investing in commercial property in the late 1980s and early 1990s after selling their Underground Fashions business just before the 1987 sharemarket crash. 

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Kotzikas family 
2016: $80 million


The Kotzikas family is an egalitarian bunch judging by the remarkably similar value of its Christchurch residences. Seventy-two-year-old patriarch Kypros and his four sons, who now jointly own the family’s United Fisheries business in trust, each have properties worth around $3 million suggesting that the fishing industry has been reasonably kind to the Cypriot migrants.

The Kotzikas story started in 1962 when 18-year-old Kypros journeyed from the tiny village of Palaichori to Christchurch where he worked in his brother’s Aranui fish and chip shop. Three years later he bought the business. Then in 1968 he ventured into the wholesale fishing industry with the late Cyril Stratford as his business partner before snapping up United Fisheries in 1974. The rest as they say is history.

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Mark Ching
2016: $75 million

From his corporate headquarters in Auckland’s Harbour View Building, Armacup managing director Mark Ching has a perfect view of Ports of Auckland’s Waitemata port where he can keep a watchful eye over his investment in a global shipping business that moves motor vehicles and heavy equipment throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Founded by transtasman investor Sean Rothsey in 1981, Armacup pioneered the Japanese used car trade to New Zealand in 1989 when it commissioned the first roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) Pure Car Carrier. When the business changed hands in 1992, it had 90 staff and substantial operations in four countries generating annual revenues of $250 million.

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Eyal Aharoni
Property development
2016: $70 million

In the space of 25 years, former Israeli army major Eyal Aharoni has created one of Wellington’s largest property companies with a substantial portfolio of commercial buildings, hotels, retail space, car parks, storage facilities and residential developments.

Having arrived in New Zealand in 1988 to complete a masters degree in geophysics at Victoria University,  Aharoni turned his attention to property development and investment in 1991. Primeproperty Group now serves as the shop window for a diverse business that claims to have “a progressive future supported by a dynamic team of people.” 

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Geoff Ross
2016: $70 million

42 Below founder Geoff Ross has been wealthy since the sale of the vodka business for $138 million in 2006 but it’s the trailblazing Trilogy International that has planted him firmly on the Rich List.

The skincare and candle maker, of which Ross is chairman, has seen its share price skyrocket 340% in the past 12 months to $4 to reach a market capitalisation of $247 million.

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Charles Shadbolt
2016: $60 million

Following in his father’s wake, Charles Shadbolt is at the helm of New Zealand’s sixth largest seafood business with annual turnover of $80 million.

Declaring itself to be 100% Kiwi owned and "intensely proud" of its heritage, the Christchurch-based fishing business had modest beginnings when Howard Leslie Shadbolt QSM opened a Linwood fish and chip shop in 1956. Incorporated in 1959, Independent Fisheries nowadays operates one of New Zealand’s largest deep-sea fishing operations with an annual catch entitlement of 79 thousand tonnes. It employs 60-100 land-based processing staff and another 480 on rotation at sea.

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Ben Cook
Property Investment
2016: $50 million

Splashing out $24 million for a Herne Bay mansion is guaranteed to attract attention in Auckland’s hot property market and that’s exactly what property investor Ben Cook did with his (record-breaking) clifftop purchase in late 2015.

Previously owned by endoscopic surgeon John Dunn and his wife Rose, the Sentinel Rd residence has a rateable value of $16 million though Cook says “I’ve never paid above valuation for a property in my life.” The price he paid was “easier to understand” when it’s considered that the 4000sq m site could accommodate 10 waterfront homes – not that he has any development plans in mind. 

Read full profile here

For full Rich List 2016 coverage, visit the NBR Rich List 2016 home page here. For full Rich List access, get a 30-day free trial to NBR here.

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