Rich migrants boost Welly rich list

ROELAND VAN DEN BERGH
BUSINESS REPORTER
Last updated 18:00 26/07/2012

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The Wellington region's wealthiest are worth a collective $7.54 billion - thanks to two rich North Americans taking up residence.

The Todd family, owners of the Todd Corporation, still top the region's standing in the latest National Business Review rich list, with an unchanged worth of $2.7b, but they slip from third to fifth in the national rankings.

The Todds, numbering about 200 members, have more than half their assets in the energy sector.

American insurance mogul and wine entrepreneur Bill Foley and Canadian film maker James Cameron - with a combined estimated fortunes of $2.4b - kept Wellington on the map in this year's list.

Neither made their fortunes in New Zealand but have set up luxurious homes in south Wairarapa and have growing business interests.

Mr Foley, estimated to be worth $1.5b, and number six on the national list, is a major player in the United States insurance market and is the majority owner of south Wairarapa luxury lodge Wharekauhau.

He last month added Marlborough's New Zealand Wine Company to his portfolio of Kiwi wine labels as part of a goal to create a million-case New Zealand wine business.

Mr Foley's Wairarapa neighbour, Mr Cameron, enters the national list in eleventh place with a worth of $900m.

He has bought several properties on the south Wairarapa coast including the 692-square-metre Pounui homestead as his new pad and a dairy farm.

While here, Mr Cameron is expected to begin work on as many as three sequels to Avatar, the biggest-grossing movie on record, eclipsing his other box-office block-buster Titanic.

Mr Cameron has said he and wife Suzy Amis want to raise their children, 10-year-old twins Claire and Quinn, and Elizabeth Rose, 5, in New Zealand.

A total of 18 individuals and families from the Wellington, Wairarapa and Manawatu made the list of New Zealand's 157 richest, which is restricted to those with a minimum fortune of $50m.

The total value of the Rich List 2012 has risen from $42.2b to $57.7b, almost entirely due to the inclusion of a handful of foreigners for the first time.

NBR says a number of internationals have been added to reflect the globalisation of wealth, given those included have invested parts of their fortunes in New Zealand or have substantial assets that give them residency rights.

Their inclusion, which ranks Russian minerals and steel magnate Alexander Abramov as the richest in the land, has bumped the Wellington region's well-heeled down the order.

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But the current tough economic times do not appear to have been kind to the locals either, with their collective wealth dropping by more than $2.4 billion from last year.

Wellington's favourite film maker Sir Peter Jackson saw his worth fall by $60m from last year to $500m and as a result his ranking dropped eight spots to 20th equal, two spots ahead of Wellington property investor Sir Robert Jones with $450m, up $50m from last year.

Trade Me founder Sam Morgan added $10m to his fortune of $315m, but slipped nine spots to 32nd nationally.

Richard Abott's 10.4 per cent stake in Trade Me through his investment fund Movac earned him $73.1m when the company was sold to Fairfax in 2006. He is now worth $100m.

1980s investment guru Sir Ron Brierley has tumbled to 64th from 36th since last year, with a worth of $160m. Brierley swapped Wellington for Sydney years ago and has dual citizenship in Australia.

Franchising entrepreneur and motor racing enthusiast Andrew Bagnall has maintained his $125m bank balance, but fell 29 places to 71st nationally.

Despite being among the region's biggest winners last year, raking in an extra $48m to be worth $120m was not enough to stop the founder of online accounting software firm Xero founder, Rod Drury from sliding to 78th from 52nd the list.

Others to make the list are Palmerston North's Higgins family with $100m, Nigel and Susan Stanford with $95m, Steve Outtrim with $90m, Roy Savage with $85, the Nightingale family with $80m, Mark Richter with $80m, Barry Thomas with $80m and Neville Jordan with $60m.

Top ten for the Wellington region

1. Todd family $2.7b unchanged
2. Bill Foley $1.5b new
3. James Cameron $900m new
4. Sir Peter Jackson $500m down $60m
5. Sir Robert Jones $450m up $50m
6. Sam Morgan $315m up $10m
7. Sir Ron Brierley $160m down $10m
8. Andrew Bagnall $125m unchanged
9. Rod Drury $120m up $48m
10. Richard Abbott $100m up $5m

Top ten nationally:

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

Related stories:

Top 10 facts about James Cameron

James Cameron buys Wairarapa property

Bill Foley - The Billionaire In Our Vines

John Todd On The Rich's Moral Obligations

2011 Rich List Show's Hart's Wealth Swelling

Contact Roeland van den Bergh
Business reporter
Email: roeland@dompost.co.nz

- The Dominion Post

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