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Who's gone

Friday 9th May 2003

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DOUGLAS MYERS

Left: 2001

Now based in: London

The departure of New Zealand's leading businessman, behind one of the country's few "built to last" companies, should serve as a wake-up call for the business community. There are many compensations for the urbane Myers' move to London, even if it was done somewhat reluctantly. He enjoys the stimulation of the London intellectual scene ­ being invited to dinners with newspaper editors and columnists, attending think tank meetings and university functions. He has an involvement with his alma mater, Cambridge University, and his son is studying there now. But Myers' heart is still in New Zealand even if his business connections have been severed. He sold his Remuera house for $8.5 million and he and wife Barbara bought a house in Chelsea (Alan Gibbs lives just over the Thames). Myers has hung onto a property at Matauri Bay in Northland and plans to return to New Zealand next year for a visit.

What we lost: A business institution who could teach others how to build world-class companies.

ALAN GIBBS

Left: 1996

Now based in: London

Coming back to New Zealand is not as convenient as it could be for Gibbs. He plays it safe in tax terms by not staying at his eccentric Kaukapakapa property in West Auckland, although he did host some parties there on his visit during the America's Cup. Home is now in the UK where he has set up his own amphibious vehicle technology company, Gibbs Technologies. (www.gibbstech.co.uk). He is a director of English, Welsh and Scottish Railways. Gibbs recently suffered a skiing accident, being knocked unconscious for 15 minutes, but characteristically attributed it to skiing "too conservatively." He jokes that he has started being "very nice" to people since getting the bump on his head.

What we lost: Brave, risk-taking ventures.

SIR MICHAEL FAY AND DAVID RICHWHITE

Left: 1997

Now based in: Geneva, Switzerland

It sounds counter-intuitive ­ Switzerland is a tax haven but you pay three sorts of tax ­ federal, state and community taxes ­ and they can be high depending on which "canton" or state you live in. Nevertheless, with careful structuring Switzerland can be a very tax effective place to live (you don't pay tax on offshore income). Fay and Richwhite are well-established in Geneva but come back here each year, often summering on their Great Mercury Island in the Hauraki Gulf. In a sign of the change of attitude toward the once-shunned merchant bankers, Michael Fay got a standing ovation at functions during the America's Cup.

What we lost: The know-how to win the America's Cup.

ERIC WATSON

Left: 2002

Now based in: London

Watson maintains his move to London was purely for personal reasons, explaining before he left: "It will be broadening for me personally and for Sam. I want him to be out of the pressure of being my son." Although that was Watson's motivation, it will undoubtedly enhance his wealth to become a non-resident. Watson texts his right-hand man Phil Newland from time to time but now leaves Newland and others to run his empire. Before leaving, Watson transferred some of his personally held assets, such as his passive 50% stake in Hanover Group, into trusts and sold his Takapuna clifftop home.

What we lost: Audacious investor role-model who has made business sexy for young people.

CHARLES BIDWILL

Left: 1997

Now based in: London

The 1991 New Zealander of the Year, Charles Bidwill is well established in London. Ear problems caused by flying cited as a reason he stood down from some directorship duties may have limited his visits back here. The Bidwills have a holiday house in Mexico but in 2001 sold their holiday home at Matheson's Bay near Leigh. Bidwill is a former triathlete and passionate advocate of the benefits of sport and exercise.

What we lost: The kind of nous that saw Baycorp become a sharemarket darling.

PETER TROUGHTON

Left: The late 1990s

Now based in: London and Wellington

The "father of Telecom" is an international consultant who maintains homes in London and Wellington. Dr Troughton was once described as being "worth a billion dollars" to New Zealand for his work in modernising the government-owned phone company. He has experience not only in telcos but also in health ­ he restructured the health system in the early 1990s ­ and energy ­ he was snapped up by Australian local government to restructure its energy sector.

What we lost: Specialist knowledge on energy restructuring (which would be particularly useful just now).

PETER AND PHILIP VELA

Left: 2002

Now based in: Europe

The Vela brothers are not involved in the day-to-day operations of their fishing and bloodstock empire and were said by associates last year in the midst of their bid for the Central North Island Forest Partnership to have decamped to Europe "for tax reasons." Neither of the Vela brothers were available to comment last month when they lost a Privy Council tax case making them liable for a $2 million bill to the IRD.

What we lost: Connections to international fishing and bloodstock networks.

COLIN GILTRAP

Left: 2002

Now based in: London and Auckland

Colin Giltrap's secretary fudges it when asked where her boss is based. "He spends some time offshore but is based here."
Any further information should come from Mr Giltrap but he was not available to expand on her answer because he was overseas. Nevertheless, the motoring magnate has done some of the things on a tax exile's to-do list. He put his landmark Herne Bay, Auckland, home on the market in February and said it was because he was spending so much time out of the country. He has bought an apartment in London.

What we lost: A car legend.

PETER COOPER

Left: Mid-1990s

Now based in: Los Angeles

A former Russell McVeagh partner and Lion Nathan executive, Peter Cooper is rarely seen back in New Zealand ­ but is welcomed back when he does visit. His friends find his impressive success in the US inspirational. A hugely successful California-based private investor, he serves on the boards of several US companies. He is the managing director of private venture capital company Cooper Capital and property development company Cooper & Stebbins. Cooper & Stebbins' developments include a major metroplex in Dallas-Fort Worth and a 50ha project in Texas.

What we lost: A venture capital and property guru.

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