25 Jul 2008

Rich list includes National Party leader

5:28 pm on 25 July 2008

National Party leader John Key has for the first time been included in a list of New Zealand's wealthiest people.

The National Business Review has released its annual list of the 200 richest New Zealanders, which shows the rich are getting richer.

Mr Key shares 167th place, having an estimated wealth of $NZ50 million.

The richest man on the list, Graeme Hart, is said to be worth $6 billion, more than double last year's figure.

The National Business Review says Mr Hart's leap from $2.75 billion last year is based on a series of large deals, including his purchase earlier this year of Alcoa's consumer goods packaging companies for $US2.7 billion.

He is also among the world's richest men, at 201 on the Forbes billionaires list.

The National Business Review says Hanover Finance director Mark Hotchin is estimated to be worth $200 million, and co-director Eric Watson $450 million.

Their combined wealth is almost $100 million more than the investor repayments frozen by the finance company.

For the first time, a woman is among the eight billionaires on the list. Lynette Erceg played a key role overseeing the sale of her late husband Michael Erceg's Independent Liquor company, and is estimated to be worth $1.4 billion.

The overall wealth of New Zealand's richest people has increased in the past year, despite the global credit crunch.

The National Business Review Rich List shows the well-heeled are in total $5.8 billion better off than they were a year ago.