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Steely twist in Rinehart family battle: Son takes on Gina in business

Iron ore billionaire Gina Rinehart's son, John Hancock, is set to go head-to-head with his mother by launching a building product which replaces steel in construction, threatening to undercut the industry that Rinehart’s iron ore holdings depend on.

Hancock is taking on a role as a director and interim chief executive of FBM Corporation which manufactures the alternative product according to a report by The Australian Financial Review.

Hancock’s new role might take his mind off the ongoing legal stoush between Hancock, his two eldest sisters and his mother, where Reinhart’s children are seeking to remove her as trustee of a $4 billion family trust.   

Hancock acknowledged his move to FBM Corporation is partly because his mother has passed him over for a role at his family’s Hancock Prospecting.

FBM Corporation was founded in January and manufactures a new product called R9 walls — thin fibre cement sheets with a polyurethane core that create lightweight but strong wall panels with energy-saving, thermal properties.

FBM Corporation’s website says the panels were developed to offer an affordable and comfortable building material that will last at least 100 years which is light-weight, extremely strong, easy to transport and simple to assemble onsite.

All manufacturing is done through Malaysia to capitalise on the strength of the Australian dollar.

Hancock said his involvement in the new venture was “a nice hedge,” referring to the origins of his family’s $17 billion wealth which has to date come mainly from iron ore, a key steel making ingredient.

However, Hancock said he does not expect steel demand to waver in the coming decades.

FBM Corporation and Hancock were unable to respond to SmartCompany’s request for comment in time for publication.

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Cara Waters

SmartCompany editor

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Cara Waters is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.
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