Pilbara movers and shakers who made it onto the annual rich list
West Australians with interests in the Pilbara have dominated the annual WestBusiness rich list.
Among the 50 wealthiest sandgropers, many can thank our region for a sizeable portion of their earnings. Here are some of those names among the top 50 synonymous with the Pilbara. The full list is available in the business section on thewest.com.au.
1st Gina Rinehart: $10.52 billion
Cash is still pouring into Gina Rinehart’s flagship resources company Hancock Prospecting, despite the volatile iron ore price.
Its half-share in the Rio Tintooperated Hope Downs project is still paying off handsomely, and royalties from other Pilbara mines keep ticking over.
Despite ongoing uncertainty about the pace of the ramp-up of Mrs Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine, it is now up and running on commercial terms.
Litigation over who owns Hancock Prospecting’s key resources assets kept grinding its way through courts across the country.
Ongoing legal action between Mrs Rinehart and two of her estranged children is working its way through the Federal Court at a glacial pace.
Last year’s buying spree by Hancock Prospecting added a swathe of some of the best cattle country in Australia to Mrs Rinehart’s holdings. New investment in WA’s dairy industry, through her holding in Bannister Downs, has also opened a pathway to Asia and beyond for her milk products.
2nd Andrew Forrest: $5.65 billion
This one-time stockbroker has seen the worst and the best of the iron ore mining industry over the past decade, and endured almost everything that fickle commodity markets can throw at his empire.
He built a genuine third force in iron ore in the face of opposition from established players BHP and Rio Tinto and then adapted that business to deal with the major slump in ore prices through 2015.
Combined with the big debts that his Fortescue Metals Group had accumulated building its mining, rail and port operations, many people are wondering if the Forrest empire could survive a sustained slump.
His group showed it had also learned from the big boys in getting costs under control and was ready to slash debt and produce some bumper profits when the iron ore price began rebounding.
His advocacy for Aboriginals represents what many see as the duality of Mr Forrest — a man with an intense desire to belong and be recognised but also willing to take risks and say and do things that leave him copping plenty of stick.
He bought back his family’s Minderoo Pilbara cattle station in 2009 and by last year had built up a 1.2 million-hectare holding.
He is using his Harvey Beef group, acquired in 2014, to produce and promote meat from the Pilbara and Kimberley, cattle regions that have struggled in the quality stakes but can claim all sorts of green credentials.
3rd Kerry Stokes: $3.53 billion
The last time Kerry Stokes appeared in the WA Rich List one of his key investments, Seven Group Holdings, was trading at less than $5 a share.
The mining equipment supplier was feeling the pinch as the great iron ore rout of 2016 made resources companies around the world tighten their belts.
The spectacular jump in commodity prices this year translated into a near-doubling of Seven Group’s value, which accounts for the lion’s share of the $1.4 billion rebound in Mr Stokes’ estimated wealth.
Since the last WA Rich List, the high beef price is making his purchase of the Napier Downs Station in 2015 look ever more prescient.
His media interests have continued to expand, with Seven West Media, which he chairs, buying
The Sunday Times newspaper from Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited stable and housing it alongside
The West Australian and Channel 7 Perth in Osborne Park.
Mr Stokes’ philanthropic endeavours will culminate in October with the 50th anniversary of WA’s flagship charity, Telethon.
4th Hancock heirs: $3.23 billion
The legal battles between John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart and their billionaire mother
Gina Rhinehart’s Hancock Prospecting’s half-share in the Rio Tintooperated Hope Downs project is still paying off handsomely
Gina Rinehart seem everlasting.
The siblings claim in Federal Court that Mrs Rinehart wrongfully transferred assets, including the tenements underlying the Hope Downs mines, from a trust.
The battle is over a trust through which Mrs Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock left 24 per cent of his estate for his grandchildren. Mrs Rinehart’s two other children, Hope Welker and Ginia Rinehart, have sided with their mother.
The children have some ownership of a big chunk of the legacy left by Mr Hancock, which includes the royalty stream from Rio Tinto and ownership of mines successfully developed by Hancock Prospecting under Mrs Rinehart.
They are likely each worth at least $800 million — possibly more.
5th Stan Perron: $3.22 billion
One of the country’s biggest private landlords, Stan Perron pockets more than $250 million a year in rents from his far-flung collection of shopping centres and office towers.
Mr Perron started out as an 11year-old selling carved handkerchief boxes for miners from a house with a dirt floor in the Goldfields. As an adult, he built the State’s biggest earthmoving business, secured the State distribution rights to Toyota vehicles on the strength of a handshake, created land divisions which supported Perth’s expansion and helped bankroll Lang Hancock and Peter Wright into iron ore.
The Hancock and Wright venture lives on in the form of a lucrative Pilbara-linked iron ore royalty, which generated nearly $30 million last year alone for Mr Perron.
7th Wright heirs: $2.54 billion
When you are talking about a perpetual royalties stream counted in the hundreds of millions, it is easy to obscure the value of businesses set up by the descendants of Peter Wright.
Wright’s daughter Angela Bennett has set a strong investment business under the banner AMB Capital Partners and has significant property holdings.
Her late brother Michael Wright grew Voyager Estate winery into a major destination in the Margaret River region. His son Myles chose not to join the family business but both daughters took key roles, with Alexandra Burt joining the family flagship Wright Prospecting and Leonie Baldock running Voyager Estate.
Wright Prospecting has long been the beneficiary of an iron ore royalty stream from Rio Tinto that is a legacy of Peter Wright’s prospecting partnership with Lang Hancock.
12th Mark Creasy: $707 million
At 72, Mark Creasy is the undisputed king of WA prospectors.
Over the decades the Creasy Group has evolved from a simple outfit to become a sophisticated exploration pioneer, with arms that still control vast swaths of the West Australian outback and an increasing presence overseas.
The veteran prospector has long said he will give up working only when he’s pushing up the daisies, and shows little sign of stepping back from his business interests.
Perhaps in light of the legal turmoil that has recently racked the houses of the State’s two other great prospecting names — Lang Hancock and Peter Wright — as their heirs battle over the spoils of success, the Creasy Group has been dealing its holdings into stock, cash and liquid assets.
His private investment vehicle, Yandal Investments, still owns stock in dozens of Australian Securities Exchange-listed explorers, many of which are the legacies of “ground of equity deals”.
17th Chris Ellison: $495 million
In the last year, Chris Ellison’s Mineral Resources has cemented its place as one of WA’s most innovative companies.
After its share price briefly dipped below $4 early last year, the resurgent iron ore price has more than doubled the value of the stock. Over the year Mineral Resources has also moved to establish new businesses in liquefied natural gas supply for mine sites, and is looking to revolutionise haul trucks through production of a carbon fibre tray.
At the same time it has leveraged its long-term relationship with lithium player Neometals, buying a Pilbara lithium project and hipping its first load of ore to China in April.
23rd Kailis Family: $410m
The Kailis name has been synonymous with seafood in WA since George Peter Kailis founded a fish shop in Barrack Street in 1926.
His four sons each carved out successful business careers, with Peter notably founding the Red Rooster chain in the early 1970s.
But the sea remains at the heart of the far-flung family empire, which straddles prawning and fishing businesses, seafood restaurants, wholesaling and distribution, marine logistics and pearl jewellery.
Just over a year ago, the family cashed up with the sale of 90 per cent of the Kailis Bros’ $400 million-a-year seafood processing, wholesale and export business to Chinese group Legend Holdings.
35th Stan Quinlivan: $274m
As the owner of Skippers Aviation, one of WA’s chief regional airlines, Mr Quinlivan spends his time working out how to get people from one remote place to another as cheaply as possible.
Over the past year demand for those flights has softened as the once booming fly-in, fly-out workforce shrank in line with dropping iron ore prices.
Decades in business has taught the Skippers Transport and Skippers Aviation head that in WA, bust follows boom follows bust as surely as night follows day follows night.
Cash is still pouring in for Gina Rinehart, who tops the WestBusiness rich list.