Finance

AFR Rich List revealed: Anthony Pratt tops the list, but the old guard is challenged by new entrants

Emma Koehn /

Anthony Pratt last topped the list of Australia’s richest individuals in 2009, and he returns to top spot in 2017 with an estimated personal wealth of $12.6 billion.

The billionaire has added more than $2 billion to his worth since last year’s BRW Rich List, and the global growth of his cardboard manufacturing business in the US has helped to knock last year’s number one, property developer Harry Triguboff, into second place, with an estimated net worth of $11.45 billion.

Australia’s richest 200 people are worth a combined $233.1 billion, according to the Australian Financial Review.

There’s a contest brewing between the old guard and traditional wealth-creating sectors like property and resources, and the continued influx of “new money” coming in from tech entrepreneurs and innovators in industries that simply did not exist when many of the rich listers first started their businesses.

Despite the changing face of the list, the makeup of the top 20 suggests some have netted plenty from the property and mining booms. Gina Rinehart secured third spot with a jump in estimated wealth of more than $4 billion, from $6.06 billion in 2016 to an estimated $10.41 billion this year.

Meanwhile, shopping centre king Frank Lowy landed fourth position with $8.26 billion in estimated wealth, and property developer John Gandel also continues to make hay from bricks-and-mortar retail, ranking sixth with $6.10 billion in estimated wealth that has only grown as he’s expanded Chadstone Shopping Centre.

The more things change …

Fifteen individuals have secured a place on the annual rich list every year since it was launched in 1984, prompting the question of whether the sectors that generate the most wealth have really changed over the past 30 years.

This year some of those usual suspects, including Kerry Stokes, David Hains, John Gandel and Solomon Lew, continue to lead their sectors as Australia’s wealthiest people. However, the shift towards younger tech founders continues and retail kings and queens continue to book big numbers.

The highest ranking “Technology” professionals for 2017 are Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, who both increased their wealth and rankings this year, landing at 17th and 18th position respectively, with an estimated $2.5 billion each.

Two of this year’s debutants also represent the flow of startup founders into the ranks of Australia’s wealthiest. Melbournian Tim Kentley-Klay, founder of mysterious self-driving car startup Zoox, has been crowned one of the “most intriguing” new entrants to the list, with an estimated net worth of $470 million.

Founder of real-estate platform Compass, Ori Allon, has moved from the Young Rich List to the grown-ups table this year, after a $US1 billion valuation of his startup contributed to a stellar year. He’s worth an estimated $364 million.

But despite the entrance of new startup founders, the old guards of retail continue to display hundred million-dollar fortunes. Solomon Lew is the country’s wealthiest retail head with an estimated worth of $2.38 million, while Gerry Harvey is not far behind at $2.34 billion. Cotton On Group founder Nigel Austin comes in at number 28 this year, worth an estimated $1.89 billion, while Sussan Group head Naomi Milgrom ranks 117, with estimated wealth of $585 million.

The 20 richest people in Australia, according to the Australian Financial Review:

1. Anthony Pratt and family – $12.6 billion

2. Harry Triguboff – $11.45 billion

3. Gina Rinehart – $10.41 billion

4. Frank Lowy – $8.26 billion

5. Ivan Glasenberg – $6.85 billion

6. Andrew Forrest – $6.84 billion

7. John Gandel – $6.10 billion

8. Hui Wang Mau – $6 billion

9. James Packer – $4.75 billion

10. Stan Perron – $3.90 billion

11. Len Ainsworth and family – $3.10 billion

12. Lang Walker – $3.00 billion

13. Lindsay Fox – $2.91 billion

14. Kerry Stokes – $2.90 billion

15. Bianca Rinehart – $2.74 billion

16. David Hains and family  – $2.55 billion

17. Mike Cannon-Brookes – $2.51 billion

18. Scott Farquhar – $2.51 billion

19. Solomon Lew – $2.38 billion

20. Jack Cowin – $2.38 billion

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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