Skyline’s NZX debate

SHARE

Some day we’ll list, says new boss – but veteran says no need

The incoming chief executive of Queenstown-based tourism heavyweight Skyline Enterprises views a public listing differently from the group’s outgoing chairman.

Jeff Staniland, an investment and financial strategist, considers it “pretty inevitable” that Skyline will list on the NZX at some stage.

“I think it’s almost generational,” he says.

“You start out, you’ve got five shareholders, now there are 800, what are you going to do when there are 2000 or 3000?

“The question is, when’s it the right time?

“That might be a long time away – and of course this would be a decision for the board to make,” Staniland says.
But Barry Thomas, stepping down as chairman of the tourism, casino and property conglomerate after a 33-year stint, down­plays the thought.

“We have no intention of listing, none at all.

”The shares are freely traded on the Unlisted board and we are not subject to the scrutiny that is required or the cost of listing [on the NZX].

“We are not short of capital and we can raise capital through Unlisted if we need to.”

Staniland, 47, comes in because managing director Ken Matthews is stepping down after 13 years at the Skyline helm. Matthews remains on the board.

His successor has an impressive corporate pedigree.

Staniland’s first 12 years were in banking and finance, first in Wellington – initially working as a money market dealer alongside Prime Minister John Key – and then in London.

In Britain, he was involved in some massive transactions and helped pioneer the application of derivatives to corporate finance.

Since shifting home in 1997, he’s been Christchurch-based with senior roles in investment and corporate management.

Heading up Mike Pero Mortgages, he prepared the company for listing on the NZX, though it was later delisted.
Latterly he’s worked for Christchurch businessman George Gould’s Gould Holdings, setting up and running Gould Wealth Management and acquiring 1700 financial-advisory clients before its sale this year.

Staniland says the Skyline job attracts him “because it’s one of the better companies in the South Island – probably No 6 by market capitalisation”.

“And tourism is our second biggest industry and Skyline’s one of the major tourism companies in New Zealand.
“It’s got good businesses, a good track record, good balance sheet – what more can you ask for?”

Moving into a new industry isn’t a problem, Staniland argues.

“It’s the same principles – getting the right strategy, looking after people, and then looking for the opportunities, growing the business.”

Queenstown’s outdoor lifestyle won’t bother him either. The father of three, married 20 years, is a keen runner, cyclist and kayaker who’s competed in multi­sport events such as the Coast to Coast and Central Otago’s Goldrush.

“I see [Queenstown] as a great big playground.”

Staniland starts on October 12.

Sky-high for 33 years

Queenstown business leader Barry Thomas is to step down after 33 years chairing the board of Skyline Enterprises.

Skyline’s constitution requires directors to stand down by age 65 – which Thomas (right) will turn in January.
He will continue on as chairman until the board chooses his successor.

He’ll remain on the Skyline board, and also as chairman of the associated Christchurch and Queens­town casino companies in which Skyline has substantial shareholdings.

Since taking over from founding chairman Hylton Hensman in 1976, Thomas has overseen phenomenal growth including:

  • Building Dunedin’s Leisure Lodge
  • Opening Rotorua’s Skyline Skyrides
  • Launching the new Queenstown gondola cableway, terminals, restaurant and souvenir shop
  • Opening luge rides in Queens­town, Rotorua, Canada and Singapore
  • Winning a torrid battle for New Zealand’s first casino licence in Christchurch
  • Snapping up eight prime Queenstown CBD properties for a reported $60 million.

Thomas is also Mountain Scene’s founder and chairman.