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Rinehart tops BRW Rich 200 list but start-ups also shine

Thursday, 26 May 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
The founders of several recently-founded businesses have been represented by the BRW Rich 200 list, which was topped by West Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

 

Rinehart’s wealth soared from $4.75 billion in 2010 to $10.3 billion in 2011 as she became the country’s biggest beneficiary of the strong rise in coal and iron ore prices.

 

Despite Rinehart becoming the first woman to head the BRW Rich list in its 28-year history, there are just 15 female rich list members featured this year. However, the estimated total wealth of the 200 people on the annual list jumped 23% to $167.25 billion.

 

While the list is dominated by mining entrepreneurs, many of the individuals featured have built their fortunes from recent start-ups, including Nathan Tinker who, at 35, is the youngest member on the list with an estimated wealth of $1.01 billion.

 

Tinkler worked as a coal mine electrician before starting his own business, but his big break came in 2006 when he borrowed $500,000 to buy a coal mine.

 

Within 13 months, he had sold his company Aston Resources to Macarthur Coal for $275 million, but continues to benefit from the appreciation of his shares.

 

Also appearing on the rich list is Jack Cowin who, with an estimated wealth of $618 million, has continued to expand his company Competitive Foods Australia.

 

Cowin is responsible for bringing fast food chains KFC and Hungry Jack’s to the local market, and has recently been campaigning for legislative change in the $130 billion franchise sector.

 

Other notable retailers on the list include Gordon Merchant ($573 million), who started surf brand Billabong in 1973 by producing handmade board shorts out of his Gold Coast flat.

 

Meanwhile, former skateboarders Peter and Stephen Hill ($271 million) co-founded street wear company Globe International.

 

The company has virtually no debt and a large cash balance, and has been the subject of takeover rumours, with possible buyers including Billabong.

 

Gerry Ryan ($317 million) is the founder and managing director of caravan company Jayco, while serial entrepreneur Graeme Wood ($337 million) made his initial fortune through the accommodation booking website Wofif.com.

 

Appearing on the list for the first time is Silviu Itescu ($562 million), founder and chief executive of Melbourne-based biotechnology company Mesoblast.

 

Garry Brown-Neaves ($293 million) began working as an apprentice bricklayer with his father after being kicked out of school. He later founded building company Webb & Brown-Neaves.

 

The company became the foundation of the ABN Group, which Brown-Neaves co-owns with fellow rich list member Dale Alcock ($291 million). Alcock also started out as an apprentice bricklayer before starting his company Dale Alcock Homes at the age of 26.

 

In second place on the list is South African-born Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive of listed commodities trading firm Glencore, with a wealth of $8.8 billion.

 

Andrew Forrest, chief executive of iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group, took out third place with a wealth of $6.18 billion, followed by Anthony Pratt.

 

With an estimated wealth of $5.18 billion, Pratt is the owner of cardboard manufacturing and recycling company Visy, taking over the position from his late father Richard Pratt.

 

Rounding out the top five is Clive Palmer, who owns mining company Mineralogy, with an estimated wealth of $5.05 billion.

 

Shopping centre mogul Frank Lowy, who held the top spot last year, came in at number six as his wealth declined slightly to $4.98 billion.

 

Media mogul James Packer holds the eighth spot with an estimated wealth of $4.16 billion, while retail giants Gerry Harvey and Solomon Lew were among the top 30.

 

Ninty-two-year-old property investor David Mandie is the oldest member on the list, with a fortune of $263 million.

 

Celebrity rich list members include Nicole Kidman and Greg Norman, with respective fortunes of $304 million and $271 million.