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Hart retains top spot in NBR Rich List, followed by newcomer Thiel

Monday 24th July 2017

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Graeme Hart, New Zealand's richest man, kept the top spot in this year's National Business Review Rich List while San Francisco-based billionaire investor Peter Thiel  - granted citizenship in 2011 - was in second place and was one of the newcomers who helped push the total value of the list up 10 percent to just over $80 billion.

Packaging magnate Hart is worth $7.5 billion, according to the annual list, down from $9 billion in 2015 but up from last year's $7.0 billion. Thiel - whose New Zealand citizenship has been the source of controversy after it came to light his citizenship was approved under the "exceptional circumstances" provisions of the Citizenship Act - is worth $3.7 billion.  Third on the list is the Todd Family, with $3.5 billion, up from $3.3  billion a year ago. The Todd family interests are in energy and property.  Former Prime Minister John Key remains on the list with a net worth of $65 million. 

The overall value of the list was bolstered by 19 newcomers worth $6.4 billion, according to NBR, led by manufacturing, insurance, aviation, agro-business and funds management businesses.  Along with Thiel, other newcomers include Chris Liddell, whose net worth is $120 million. According to NBR, being appointed as a strategic adviser to US President Donald Trump has come at a cost for expatriate Kiwi businessman Chris Liddell, with the mandatory disclosure of his potential wealth for all to see. Other newcomers include the Mowbray family, with a net worth of $120 million, thanks to their global toy company Zuru Inc, which makes the so-called Bunch-o-Balloons, a device that fills 100 water balloons in 60 seconds.

Only 20 members of the list saw their wealth lose value, including Richard Chandler, whose net worth dropped to $2 billion from $4.2 billion. According to NBR, a slump in oil prices has hit the exploration industry hard, and his banking investments in India and Nigeria appear to be going through a particularly rough patch. While Chandler's net worth took a hit, he is still in fourth place on the overall list of more than 200 people with a net worth of over $50 million. Orion Health founder Ian McCrae saw his net worth fall to $125 million from $350 million as the share price took a tumble.  

The Rich List also includes five foreign billionaires who have business interests and investments in New Zealand. Alexander Abramov was worth $6 billion, according to the Rich List's assessment while Julian Roberston, who built his wealth with the Tiger Management hedge fund and owns luxury lodges in New Zealand, was worth $5.3 billion. Bill Foley, who has built a portfolio of wine businesses in New Zealand, was worth $1.7 billion.  Soichiro Fukutake - a newcomer to the list - was worth $1.4 billion while movie maker James Cameron who is best known for blockbusters Titanic and Avatar, was worth $1.4 billion. 


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