Marlborough on the rich list

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 07:21 27/07/2012

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Businessmen with Marlborough connections are flippant about appearing on the 2012 National Business Review's Rich List

At least one reckons he is worth much more than listed.

Seven Marlborough entries made the list, Peter Yealands and the Marris, Delegat, Babich and Giesen families, John Holdsworth and the Fletcher family.

The annual list compiled by the National Business Review ranks New Zealand's wealthiest entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, manufacturers and financiers.

At 114 on the list is Yealands Estate owner Peter Yealands, said to be worth $80 million.

The third generation Marlburian led the way when mussel farming began in the Marlborough Sounds in the 1960s, and has become an industry leader in creating sustainable wines from his Seaview winery in the Awatere Valley.

Mr Yealands was bemused about appearing on the list, and would rather keep his fortunes private. "I'm just a simple tractor driver man, I don't get caught up in all the hype," he said.

He was more excited when a Yealands Estate wine won the worldwide sauvignon blanc trophy at the London International Wine Challenge in June.

The Marris Family are also 114 on the list at $80m.

Brent Marris set up Marisco Vineyards in the Waihopai Valley, after he and his father John Marris sold Wither Hills winery to Lion Nathan for $52m in 2002. Brent Marris is actively involved in all aspects of the business and regularly flies between Auckland and Marlborough.

"My whole company works hard and that's the essence of a good Kiwi business," he said.

At 87 on the list is the Giesen family, comprising of brothers Alex, Marcel and Theo Giesen worth $105m.

Although the brothers live in Christchurch, they have 13 vineyards in Marlborough, totalling 290 hectares. Their winery can process 7000 tonnes of grapes and has a tank capacity of 8.5m litres of wine.

Alex Giesen is dubious about how the values are calculated, because much like farms, wineries are asset rich and cash poor, he said. "I wouldn't sell you the company for that much money that's for sure, it has been considerably underrated," he said.

He and his brothers are still actively involved in the business and he said he was positive about the the wine industry's future.

"There are no limitations, you have to keep your wits about you and forge ahead regardless of what others are doing."

On the list at 131 is the Auckland-based Babich family worth $70m, with vineyards in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough.

Jim and Rosemari Delegat are 66 on the list, worth $150m.

The siblings run their NZX-listed company from Auckland, and have vineyards in Marlborough and Hawke's Bay.

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Information technology services company Datacom chief executive John Holdsworth is also at 66, at $150m.

In three years, the firm, which provides services in New Zealand, Australia and Asia expects to reach $1 billion in three years, the National Business Review reported.

At 131 on the list is the Fletcher family, whose construction and investment empire is said to be worth $70m.

- The Marlborough Express

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