Electrician-turned-miner tops Australia’s Young Rich list

Nathan Tinkler, a former electrician who became one of Australia’s wealthiest coal barons and thoroughbred horse owners, has been named Australia’s richest person aged 40 years or less by BRW magazine.

Nathan Tinkler, a former electrician who became one of Australia’s wealthiest coal barons and thoroughbred horse owners, has been named Australia’s richest person aged 40 years or less by BRW magazine.

Tinkler, who is worth $441 million and is aged 32, was well in front of London-based fund manager Hilton Nathanson, who makes his debut at $385 million. Sydney-based hedge fund managers Angus and Richard Grinham are ranked fourth with $368 million, with Adelaide property developer Ross Makris taking fifth spot at $350 million.

Last year’s richest young person, Sydney property developer Shaun Bonett, is ranked sixth with $340 million.

Despite the global financial turmoil, the total wealth of the 100 members of the Young Rich has climbed from $4.8 billion last year to $6.03 billion. The minimum net wealth required for inclusion has increased from $18 million to $20 million.

To be eligible for the list, members must be 40 years or under and have acquired wealth without any inheritance.

The list also includes the usual slew of celebrities, including Kylie Minogue ($84 million), actress Cate Blanchett ($48 million), motorcross star Chad Reed ($25 million) and Formula 1 driver Mark Webber ($23 million).

The dominant industries remain technology and retail, where barriers to entry and capital requirements are relatively low.

Brisbane internet company owner and property developer Daniel Tzvetkoff, aged 24, is the youngest member of this year’s list.

But Tinkler is clearly the star of the list, mainly because he has made his fortune in an incredibly short amount of time. In early 2006, his company Custom Mining bought the Middlemount coal deposit in central Queensland for $15 million. Six months later, Custom went ahead with its plans for a mine at Middlemount and commenced the project in August 2007.

But in December 2007, Queensland coal independent Macarthur Coal announced it had acquired Custom Mining and its 70% in the Middlemount project for $275 million – $65 million in cash, $200 million of Macarthur Coal shares and another $10 million of shares in March 2009, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. Tinkler sold those shares earlier this year.

Tinkler has shown himself to be as adept at spending money as making it. Since the start of the year, Tinkler’s thoroughbred investment business Patinack Farm has splurged more than $70 million on land and race horses, including a $19 million bender at the Magic Millions sale on the Gold Coast, where he picked up 59 yearlings in a buying blitz.

At least he’s enjoying the spoils of his wealth!

James Thomson is a former editor of the Young Rich.

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