Richard Pratt dies of prostate cancer aged 74


Billionaire Richard Pratt has died in Melbourne at the age of 74 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Over the last four decades, Pratt built paper and packaging company Visy group into one of Australia’s largest public companies, with more than 6000 staff and annual revenue of more than $3 billion.


Pratt is survived by his wife Jeanne and four children: Anthony, Heloise, Fiona and Paula, who was born in 1997 to his long-term mistress Shari-Lea Hitchcock.


Pratt’s personal fortune is estimated to be around $4 billion.


Pratt was born in the Polish city of Gdañsk in 1934 and emigrated to Australia in 1938, settling in the Victorian town of Shepparton. In 1945, Pratt’s father Leon founded the Visy business with the Feldman family,


Pratt, who studied at the University in Melbourne and had aspired to be an actor at one stage, become chief executive of Visy in 1965 after the death of his father. At the time, the company’s revenue was just $5 million.


Over the next 40 years, Pratt built Visy into one of the world’s largest packaging companies, expanding beyond Australia to establish large packaging operations in the United States. The group, which has revenue of more than $3 billion, controls around half of the Australian packaging industry, with rival Amcor controlling the other half.


It was the relationship between Visy and Amcor that badly tarnished Pratt’s reputation. In 2007, Pratt confessed that he and two other senior Visy executives had illegally fixed the prices of cardboard boxes with executives from Amcor.


Last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission brought criminal charges against Pratt, alleging he provided false or misleading evidence during the ACCC’s Visy/Amcor cartel probe. This case was dropped on the eve of Pratt’s death.


While Pratt had built a reputation as one of Australia’s most generous philanthropists – his Visy foundation is estimated to give away up to $10 million a year – the fallout from the cartel episode badly damaged Pratt’s standing in the community.


Last March, he voluntarily handed in his Companion and Officer of the Order of Australia medals. He also gave up his presidency of the Carlton Football Club when the criminal charges were made.


Pratt will be remembered as a generous philanthropist and an aggressive businessman who was prepared to push the boundaries to grow his business.


As tributes flow, Pratt’s victims push ahead with legal action

While the tributes flow for billionaire packaging tycoon Richard Pratt, two legal cases against Pratt’s packaging company Visy over its involvement in a cartel are set to be ramped up. Read more…


Richard Pratt’s strong succession plan

It is unlikely that the operations of the Visy paper and packaging empire will be disrupted by the death of Richard Pratt, who died on 28 April after a long battle with prostate cancer. Read more…


How will Pratt be remembered?

In a nutshell, how will Pratt be remembered? As a great entrepreneur and a philanthropist? Or will he be remembered as the head of a cartel that ripped-off hundreds of millions of dollars from business owners and consumers? Read more…


Richard Pratt’s secrets to success.

The grave illness of billionaire Richard Pratt has inspired a steady stream of tributes from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd down. While most of these tributes has focused on Pratt the philanthropist, Pratt the arts patron and Pratt the pillar of the community, Pratt’s real skill is as an entrepreneur and wealth creator. Read more…

Richard Pratt Gravely ill

Pratt has battled prostate cancer in recent years, and it is believed that his condition has worsened considerably in recent weeks. Read more…

Richard Pratt’s Visy warns of job losses under emissions trading scheme

Billionaire Richard Pratt would be forced to immediately close two paper recycling plants and cut 160 workers as a result of the introduction on an emissions trading scheme with a carbon price of $20 a tonne. Read more…

Round two for Richard Pratt and Visy

The nightmare is far from over for billionaire Visy chief Richard Pratt. The New Zealand Commerce Commission has launched a prosecution of Pratt for Visy’s cartel with Amcor.  Read more…

Small business to take on billionaire Richard Pratt over price fixing

Small and medium businesses are already lining up to stake their claims for compensation against packaging giant Visy, as its founder Richard Pratt declared in an interview on Saturday that his company will admit to breaking the law. Read more…

The verdict on Richard Pratt and Visy

Packaging giant Visy has been ordered to pay the largest fine in Australian corporate history after the board was found guilty of engaging in a price-fixing and cartel scheme with rival Amcor. Read more…

Our ten richest fight on

Pratt has had a tough year battling illness, but his Visy paper and recycling empire had a win recently when it managed to secure $500 million of funding from its banking syndicate. Read more…


For more on Richard Pratt


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