Michael Heseltine Watt ONZM (born 16 December 1940) is a New Zealand entrepreneur, philanthropist, and investor. He is one of five New Zealanders who featured in the Sunday Times Rich List 2009. He was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community in the 2005 New Year Honours.
Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, he was expelled from Christs College, Christchurch, in 1955, and spend the next 10 years working in various blue collar industries (i.e. oil drilling, construction, rigging, etc...) around the world, as well as numerous hotels and jazz clubs in USA.
In the 1960s Watt worked as an explosives expert for oil exploration crews in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central America. In the late 1960s / early 1970s he worked for the National Supply Company oil field division of Armco Steel, out of Houston, TX, and Louisiana, on the early development of sub-sea wellheads and blow out preventers. During this period he became a partner of Drexel Oil Services in Aberdeen, Scotland. After a project with the Israeli Government off the Sinai Peninsula, Watt sold out of all his oil interests in 1976.
While working with Capital Sports New York, he formed CSI in London and quickly saw an opportunity where sports bodies worldwide were not exploiting their international television rights intelligently, and in a pioneering move soon represented all soccer bodies in UK/Europe, as well as all international rugby and cricket federations. CSI's largest publicised contract was a deal with NewsCorp in the lead up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, which lead to the professionalism of international Rugby Union, particularly in the southern hemisphere. Worth approx. $950m, this was largest sports broadcasting contract in history at the time. CSI represented all cricket and rugby federations, and most soccer federations, for 15 years. Their work is largely credited with shaping the current professionalism of most major sporting industries.
CSI was sold to the Interpublic Group in 2001.
Watt produced numerous albums since the 1990s, most notably Vince Mendoza's Grammy nominated Epiphany in 1999, which is considered a classic by the jazz music industry.
In 2009 Watt joined music mogul Korda Marshall in relaunching the Infectious Music record label (formerly known as Infectious Records). The label's most notable signing was alt-J, who won the 2012 British Barclaycard Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave, which reached Platinum certification in the UK. Their other signings include General Fiasco, Local Natives, Cloud Control, Drenge, Superfood, RY X, The Acid, These New Puritans, and Vance Joy. Infectious Music was acquired by BMG Rights Management in September 2014.
Watt is also the owner of the legendary Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, London, with business partner Sally Greene OBE.
Watt has had an extensive history in the theatre industry, and is the only New Zealander ever to receive a Tony Award. His theatre production credits include:Jersey Boys
We Will Rock You
Matilda the Musical
Of Mice and Men
The Boy from Oz
Driving Miss Daisy
Annie Get Your Gun