Sir Douglas Myers dies, aged 78

Sir Douglas Myers, one of New Zealand's richest men, has died.

The 78-year-old died in London on Saturday, according to a statement received by RNZ. He moved to the UK capital in 2002.

His estimated worth was reported to be around $930 million in 2016.

He had been fighting cancer.

Reluctant business genius

Sir Douglas was born in 1938 into a brewing dynasty, a family that was considered Auckland's aristocracy.

And the future Sir Douglas was given an education to match - first at Kings College and then Cambridge University.

Then he returned, somewhat reluctantly, to run the family business.

Through a series of legal battles, Sir Douglas took control of the family firm, which through a series of mergers became Lion Nathan.

In 1990 the company bought out Alan Bond's Australian brewing business, and Sir Douglas declared he was done with change.

But just three years later he was on the move again, this time to Asia - spending $32 million on a joint venture brewery near Shanghai.

"We've got 1.2 billion potential consumers in China, and you've got seven or eight hundred million potential consumers in India."

Lion Nathan was everywhere. Its brands were on New Zealand's rugby shirts and sponsored our Yachties.

And Sir Douglas was equally visible as a champion of the free market, chairing the Business Roundtable for seven years.

Time out

In 1998 Lion Nathan was bought by Japanese brewery Kirin - selling his 45 percent share made Sir Douglas New Zealand's richest man, with a fortune of $312 million.

"The reality is if you go into business, there is a measure of success for a corporation or for individuals who work in corporations, and one of those measures of success is money," he said at the time.

"Money isn't the endgame - money is the result of doing things right."

He started giving his money away, establishing a scholarship at Cambridge, and giving $3 million to Auckland University's Kenneth Myers Arts Centre, in memory of his father.

And then he took time to consider his next move.

"I had 20 years being educated, I had 20 years establishing myself, another 20 years in the business and I've now got 20 years twilight, if you like.

"I'm not totally decrepit, so therefore somewhere something's going to come up that's of interest."

A 'crazy' move into music

That something of interest was Downtown Music - the company whose first hit was Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy'.

Knighted in 2010, in his later years Sir Douglas was plagued with ill health, including bowel cancer. At 75 he endured another round of chemo.

It was enough to buy him time and give him a chance to reflect.

"You are dealt the particular set of hand that you are and you make the best of whatever talents you've got… I'm not a [Jonah] Lomu, I'm not lots of things in this life, and there's no point worrying about the things you can't do - just concentrate on things that you can do."

Sir Douglas Myers - a man who made the most of the good hand he was dealt.