While this year’s BRW magazine’s Rich 200 list is dominated by tales of falling wealth, the list also contains a number of spectacular gains by prosperous entrepreneurs.
Mining investor Clive Palmer, who yesterday announced plans for a $7 billion coal project in Queensland, has seen the value of his fortune more than double, from $1.5 million to $3.42 billion.
Ron Walker, chairman of Fairfax Media (the publisher of BRW) has also had a great year, with his fortune climbing $341 million to $768 million, thanks to investments in residential land parcels in Melbourne and the completion and sale of several property developments.
Despite the difficult economic environment, 15 people make their debut on the list, led by coal seam gas entrepreneur Paul Fudge, who storms onto the list with a fortune of $752 million.
The youngest debutant is Simon Calusen, just 32 years of age, who joins the list with a fortune of $180 million. Clausen is the founder of computer security company PC Tools, which he sold to US technology firm Symantec last year.
There are 12 women on the list, one less than last year. Gina Rinehart remains Australia’s richest woman, with $3.47 million (down $920 million due to falling commodity prices) but she is joined by two new names: Diana Grollo, co-owner of property group Equiset and Penny Maclagan, an executive at share registry giant Computershare.
Just weeks after the death of cardboard box magnate, Richard Pratt, his son and heir Anthony has been crowned Australia’s richest person by BRW with a fortune of $4.2 billion.
Big falls in equity and property markets though have ravaged many fortunes on the Rich 200 list.
Andrew Forrest, who topped last year’s list with a fortune of $9.41 billion, has fallen to eighth place, after his net worth tumbled to $2.38 billion.
James Packer, whose family has dominated the rich list for the past 20 years, dropped from second place to sixth place after his fortune fell from $6.1 billion to $3 billion.
Frank Lowy’s net worth dropped from $6.3 billion to $4.2 billion, while the Pratt family’s fortune also dropped from $5.5 billion to $4.2 billion.
The total wealth of the 200 members of the list fell $25 billion to $114 billion, the biggest drop in Rich 200’s 26-year history. The number of billionaires has dropped from 39 to 38 and the cut-off for inclusion on this year’s list plunged from $200 million to $150 million.