Eric Watson (businessman)
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He attended Xavier College in Christchurch where he enjoyed his schooling. It is believed he will be fully involved in school developments in 2016. His first job on leaving school was as a butcher's apprentice. He later became a sales and branch manager at Whitcoulls and then a manager for Xerox.
He left Xerox in 1992 to start the Blue Star Group.
Watson and business partner Mark Hotchin bought Elders Finance in 1999. Elders, and a number of other finance companies, were brought together to create Hanover Group. In July 2008 the finance companies within Hanover Group froze repayments, suspending acceptance of new deposits.
Hanover paid dividends of NZ$41 million in the 2007 financial year and NZ$45.5 million in the 2008 financial year. The following financial year, NZ$68.5m was contributed to Hanover by entities associated with Watson and Hotchin.
In December 2009 Hanover Group debenture holders, note holders and bond holders voted in favour of swapping their debentures, notes and bonds for shares in Allied Farmers Limited (NZX: ALF). This transaction resulted in ALF assuming the net asset position of the Hanover Group finance companies.
When Hanover collapsed, causing significant losses for many small investors, concerns were raised about Hanover group's true financial position, its solvency when paying dividends, transactions that may have benefited related parties, and the accuracy of asset valuations.
Watson founded Cullen Investments in 1995 and is currently the executive chairman of the international private investment company. The company has interests in the following sectors; fashion retail, financial services, agriculture, real estate and sports and entertainment. The firm's primary focus is development of its international portfolio, which includes interests in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Through the firm, he owns Bendon Lingerie. First launched in New Zealand, the company now has sales channels in Australia, US, UK, Europe and the UAE. The brand includes ranges from Elle Macpherson who helped launch the brand into the UK and Europe, and Stella McCartney.
Through the firm, he bought a 75% stake in the New Zealand Warriors in 2000, which competes in the Australasian National Rugby League (NRL) and is New Zealand's largest and highest-profile privately owned sporting franchise. He has since reduced his share to 50% while selling off the other half to New Zealand billionaire Owen Glenn. However, in 2015, he increased his share to 100% becoming the sole-owner of the 'Vodafone Warriors' Franchise.
The firm has an international property portfolio, including commercial assets and residential development, predominantly in New Zealand, the US and UK.
The Watson Foundation is a charitable trust established by Cullen Investments to enrich the lives of underprivileged children and young people and assist with their needs, including care, support, protection, health and education. The foundation sponsored till about 2011 charities such as The First Tee of New Zealand.
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- "Elle Macpherson intimates". bendonlingerie.com.au. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014.
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