Foreigners invade Rich List

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 18:00 26/07/2012
Alexander Abramov
RICHEST: Russian mineral mogul Alexander Abramov tops the 2012 NBR Rich List.

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For the first time, the wealthiest person atop the National Business Review's 2012 Rich List is not a New Zealander.

A sprinkling of international investors added this year has swollen the ranks of the billionaires from six to nine, but also pushed this country's richest down the ladder.

Six-billion-dollar Auckland business tycoon Graeme Hart has been usurped by Russian steel magnate Alexander Abramov, valued at $7b.

Abramov keeps a low profile, but is currently building a $40 million luxury waterfront home in the Bay of Islands. He is ranked 189 on the Forbes' billionaires list.

The five new foreign investors have injected $13.4b into the list, skyrocketing the combined total value up to $57.7b from $45.2b in 2011.

But the 152 locally-grown moneybags actually saw a slight dip in collective wealth, down 2 per cent to $44.3b.

Waikato-born investment banker Richard Chandler ($5b) added another billion over the last 12 months to snap at Hart's heels in third place.

The Todd family ($2.7b) and Chandler's brother Christopher ($1.5b) maintained their fortunes but slipped down the list to fifth and sixth place respectively.

NBR said the international additions were designed to reflect the globalisation of wealth, with most investing enough to earn residency rights.

Among those were New York arts patron Julian Robertson ($3b) at number four on the list, who owns three luxury lodges here.

American William Foley ($1.5b) is buying up New Zealand wineries and owns a luxury lodge in the Wairarapa, not far from fellow new Rich Lister and filmmaker James Cameron's ($900m) home-base.

The Waikato's adopted aristocrat Dowager Duchess Henrietta Bedford ($1b) adds some blue blood to the list, with extensive property interests throughout the country.

NBR uses valuations of listed shares, sales of private companies and other valuation techniques to estimate the wealth of those ranked.

New publicly available information also saw hotelier families the Pandeys and the Jhunjhunwalas, enter the list, along with Bay of Plenty farmers Colin and Dale Armer.

Right at the bottom, John Key was teetering on the $50m cut-off threshold, down $5m from last year.

The Prime Minister, who made his money as a currency trader owns several properties around New Zealand and around the world.

Because of his political position, his money is invested for him in a blind trust, meaning he doesn't actually know where it is held so cannot be accused of political interference to line his own pocket.

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There were a total of 157 Rich Listers this year, including 96 men, just five women, 47 families and nine pairs/couples.

TOP TEN   
1   Alexander Abramov: $7b
2   Graeme Hart: $6b
3   Richard Chandler: $5b
4   Julian Robertson: $3b
5   Todd Family: $2.7b
6=   Christopher Chandler: $1.5b
6=   William (Bill) Foley: $1.5b
8   Eamon Cleary: $1.2b
9   Dowager Duchess Henrietta Bedford: $1b
10   Goodman Family : $950m

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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