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Top entrepreneurs count down to international comp

Top New Zealand entrepreneurs count down to international competition in Monte Carlo

Vintner George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estate is representing New Zealand next week at the prestigious Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year. The competition is being held in Monte Carlo, Monaco, from 6-11 June, 2006.

He will be joined by fitness pioneer, Phillip Mills, of Les Mills International, who has been selected as one of only nine judges worldwide to judge the international competition. Phillip won New Zealand’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2004.

George, who won the New Zealand award in October 2005, will compete against 34 other country representatives for the title of ‘Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year’. The winner will be announced at a banquet dinner on Saturday, June 10 (New Zealand Time: Sunday morning).

George sees the competition as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the world’s most successful business people.

“Winning the New Zealand Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award was a life-changing event. The competition domestically was tough but I’m expecting a more intense competition at the world event. I’ll be up against the owners of multi-national companies with billion dollar turnovers. I’m viewing Monte Carlo as an opportunity to learn and enjoy,” George says.

George is being accompanied to the event by Roger Hatrick-Smith, Director of Entrepreneurial & Growth Market Services at Ernst & Young. Roger believes that, despite some of the best businesspeople in the world competing in the Monte Carlo event, George has an excellent chance of winning.

“George is the founder of one of New Zealand’s most successful and well-known businesses and it continues to go from strength to strength. As recently as May, Villa Maria Estate scooped five gold medals at the 2006 International Wine Challenge in London, the world’s most prestigious wine show,” Roger says.

“He will be judged not only on the success of his business but on his own entrepreneurial qualities including entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, personal integrity, leadership, passion and social responsibility - all of which George has demonstrated consistently at the helm of Villa Maria."

Entries for the New Zealand Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year are now open and close on Friday, 23 June. New Zealand’s 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year will be announced at an award banquet on Wednesday, 11 October.

Now in its ninth year in New Zealand and twentieth year worldwide, the award programme was launched by Ernst & Young to celebrate the world’s leading entrepreneurs and to share their stories to inspire others. Operating in 41 countries, it is recognised as the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs and is the only global business award in New Zealand.

Potential entrants can contact Ernst & Young for more information, phone 0800 368 737, email or visit


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