Sir Bob Jones the newest billionaire on NBR Rich List

Sir Bob Jones wealth estimated at $1b
Photo credit: Photosport

The NBR Rich List, released Monday, points to property tycoon Sir Bob Jones as New Zealand's newest billionaire.

Closing in on his 80th birthday, the property investor, author and former politician is showing no signs of slowing down, having recently purchased his 18th prime office building - Civic Assurance House, in Wellington's CBD.

According to NBR estimates, he has more than doubled his fortune over the past six years, and his private property company now owns 26 buildings in Auckland and Wellington alone.

The NBR Rich List 2019 has estimated his net worth at around $1 billion - up from $860 million last year.

Jones trails businessman Graeme Hart, the first Kiwi to hit the $10b mark, up from an estimated $9b in 2018.

New Zealand now has nine billionaires and five billionaire families, according to the list. The NBR reported that collectively, the billionaires have chalked up $90b in homegrown wealth, up 11 percent from last year. 

Who are the newcomers?  


Twenty new people have been added to NBR's list of 255 of our top businesspeople. Of these, 16 are involved in businesses related directly or indirectly to property ownership.

Among the newbies are Mark Gunton, owner of NZ Retail Property Group ($210m), Peter Coote, transport operator ($190m), Craig Silberry, managing director of probiotic manufacturer Life-Space ($155m) and Sir Ken Stevens, chairman of Glidepath ($75m).

Among the new families of 2019 are the Patersons, heirs to the late South Island entrepreneur Howard Paterson, and the Dippies (Martin and Allan), Southland-based brothers with a retail and property portfolio. 

Successful duo Ian Cassels and Caitalin Taylor, whose notable property developments include the Spark Central building in Wellington have also joined the list, together with the Farmer family, whose Tauranga-based business Farmer Motor Group operates the biggest new and used car dealership in the Bay of Plenty. 

Who are the climbers? 


Among the biggest increases in wealth on NBR's 2019 report are Mat, Nick and Anna Mowbray, founders of the Zuru toy company (including the infamous water balloons).  The NBR report said the foursome are now estimated to be worth $3b.

With their family-owned agricultural business, the Pye family is now estimated to be worth $1b, achieving growth of around $500m in a year.

The NBR also reported that "Property investor Sir Paul Adams, Mainfreight chairman Bruce Plested and financier Murray Bolton have also had stellar years, increasing their net worth by more than 30 percent.  The same has been true for the Goodman and Watson families.

"Wine company Delegates has seen Jim and Rosemari Delegat increase their net worth by around a quarter."

Xero founder Rod Drury and his former wife are now worth around $1.2b.

Whose fortunes fell?  


The NBR reported that a small number (2 percent) of people on last year's list have had a financial hit over the past year.

"Hardest-hit were Arrow International owners Ron Anderson and Bob Foster. Their construction company fell victim to many of the problems plaguing the sector, and is now in liquidation.

"Sir Michael Hill's jewellery chain also lost some of its shine over the past year, denting his value on paper by around $50m."  

Who didn't make the cut?  


Eric Watson and Sir Graeme Avery appeared on NBR's Rich List in 2018 but have not made the cut this year. 

The NBR reported that Watson had been dropped due to uncertainties over his personal wealth amidst a high-stakes legal battle with Sir Owen Glenn, whilst Avery had been removed following the near-collapse last year of Sileni Estates, the winery he founded more than 20 years ago.

Women make up less than 10 percent  


Only 20 of the 255 people listed this year are women (excluding families). While this is a relatively low proportion, former Spark chief executive and My Food Bag co-founder Teresa Gattung told The NBR that there are a variety of reasons, including women taking a more balanced approach to life.

"But partly it is women don't always have the same confidence as men do to go for it in business. They don't think about business as a career. If they start businesses, sometimes they have much lower ceilings on their aspirations than a bloke would in a similar situation."

Gatting also explained to The NBR that it's harder to get established as a women, although it gets easier.