Pil­bara movers and shak­ers who made it onto the an­nual rich list

Pilbara News - - News -

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.

Pic­ture: Mo­gens Jo­hansen

Cash is still pour­ing in for Gina Rine­hart, who tops the WestBusi­ness rich list.

Andrew For­rest

Kerry Stokes

Stan Quin­li­van

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