Thursday, May 26, 2011

Australia's Richest Person: Gina Rinehart

Gina Rinehart

 wrote about Gina Rinehart last year. Back then she was Australia's richest women. This year, she's not only Australia's richest women but Australia's richest person. She's obtained the highest crown possible in the world of wealth, business and power in Australia.

With a personal fortune of $10.3 billion and her fingers in several pies: Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd, Hancock Coal Pty Ltd, HPPL Group of Companies and Ten Network Holdings. She's one saavy business woman who's not resting on her laurels.

First female ever in this elite top spot - well done Gina. Between the sobbing craziness and success of Oprah, Beyonce and Madonna, we have our own in Gina Rinehart.

Mining magnates are now dominating the rich scene. Evolution of the business sector has been depicted by the changing names and faces on the rich list. A few years ago, media barons dominated the top spots, then it was the property barons and now the mining magnates. Throw in a few printing and retail barons but there are only a few of them amongst the other categories.

The Hancock Empire

Gina's father, Langley Hancock (10 June 1909-27 March 1992) discovered the world's largest iron ore deposit in 1952. He became one of the richest men in Australia. Across his lifetime, he was married to three women. His first marriage to Susette Maley didn't work out and they separated. His second wife was Hope Nicholas. They had one child, Gina Rinehart. Hope passed away in 1983. Years later, Langley Hancock married his third wife, Rose Porteous.

Hancock and his business partner Peter Wright had a poignant and successful friendship. They built their mining business together and left vast wealth for their heirs to inherit. Unfortunately the heirs have been involved in bitter disputes over ownership of the iron ore Rhodes Ridge tenement. Rhodes Ridge is an enormous, undeveloped body of iron ore that is worth several hundred million dollars. It was rumoured to be a $500 million deposit in 1989 so in today's value, it's probably worth billions.

Gina Rinehart and Peter Wright's heirs, Angela Bennett and Michael Wright, also earn 2.5% per tonne royalties from the Pilbara iron ore tenement that her father sold to Rio Tinto in the 1960s. The royalties from the Pilbara iron ore tenement contributes millions into their coffers each year.

The Battle of Billionaires versus billionaires

Where there is money, litigation follows.

Gina has reportedly been involved in several litigations over the years. She went to court against her stepmother in 1992 over the split of her father's inheritance. She's also litigated against Wright's heirs over the Rhodes Ridge tenement believing that she is entitled to a 25% share. Back then, 50% was owned by Rio Tinto and 50% by Wright's children.

Ironically, the Wright siblings Angela Bennett and Michael Wright, were also litigated against by their niece and nephew (Tim and Natalie Wright). Peter Wright's grandchildren won a court settlement in 2008 for an estimated $60 million.

Rinehart's daughter, Bianca has been groomed to follow in her mother's footstops into the mining industry. Biance is likely to be the future head of the Hancock empire. They also have interest in the Pilbara Hope Downs iron ore deposit, a deal that was signed in 2005. Rinehart also owns interest in Mulga Downs Iron Ore, Roy Hill Holdings, Minerals Australia, Hancock Coal and Hancock Energy.

For the inquisitive Googlers: Rinehart's husbands

There have been plenty of people who Googled about Gina Rinehart's husband only to land on this blog so I thought I'd write about it. Rinehart first married Greg Milton(who later changed his surname to Hayward), they had two kids (Bianca & John Hayward) and then divorced. Her son John Hayward later changed his name to John Hancock after a dispute with his mother. 

Gina later married Frank Rinehart, an American corporate laywer and he sadly passed away in 1990. She had twins daughters, Hope and Gina, with Rinehart so she has a total of four children.

So Gina was previously Gina Hancock, then Gina Hayward and finally Gina Rinehart. It's rather confusing because her first husband was Greg Milton who had changed his name to Greg Hayward, and her son with Greg Hayward was named John Hayward, but he later changed his name to John Hancock. And to cap the confusion off, Gina Rinehart named one of her twin daughter after herself.

She had a mountain range named Hancock Range, to commemorate her family's contribution to the mining industry.

Ivan Glasenbert

What a low profile he used to have. The first time I saw his name was only recently in the AFR(Australian Financial Review) and now he comes striding onto the rich list into second spot with a fortune of $8.8 billion. Dark horse.

Nathan Tinkler - Youngest member of the elite rich list

Tinkler is a 35 year old mining magnate with a $1.01 billion fortune. That's simply astounding that one so young is achieving so much.

Further reading:

1. Australia's Richest Woman- Gina Rinehart

[Image source: The Australian Newspaper]

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