Game ChangersShe built her wealth on iron ore, Meet Australia's...

She built her wealth on iron ore, Meet Australia’s Richest Person, Gina Rinehart

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She built her wealth on iron ore, Meet Australia’s Richest Person, Gina Rinehart

Australia’s richest citizen built her wealth on iron ore, an industry that continues to expand robustly.

Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart, born on 9 February 1954, is an Australian mining magnate and heiress. Rinehart is Chairman of Hancock Prospecting, a privately-owned mineral exploration and extraction company founded by her father, Lang Hancock. She is one of Australia’s richest people; with Forbes estimating her net worth in 2019 at US$14.8 billion as published in the list of Australia’s 50 richest people; and The Australian Financial Review estimating her net worth in 2019 at A$13.81 billion as published in the Financial Review Rich List. Forbes considers Rinehart one of the world’s richest women.

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Rinehart was born in Perth, Western Australia, and spent her early years in the Pilbara. She boarded at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls and then briefly studied at the University of Sydney, dropping out to work with her father at Hancock Prospecting. As Lang Hancock’s only child, Rinehart inherited a 76.6% share in the company upon his death in 1992, and succeeded him as executive chairman. The company’s remaining shares were transferred to a trust for her four children.

When Rinehart took over Hancock Prospecting, her total wealth was estimated at A$75 million. She oversaw a rapid expansion of the company over the following decade, and due to the iron ore boom of the early 2000s became a nominal billionaire in 2006. In the 2010s, Rinehart began to expand her holdings into areas outside the mining industry. She made sizeable investments in Ten Network Holdings and Fairfax Media (although she sold her interest in the latter in 2015), and also expanded into agriculture, buying several cattle stations.

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Rinehart was Australia’s wealthiest person from 2011 to 2015, according to both Forbes and The Australian Financial Review. Her wealth peaked at around A$29 billion in 2012, at which point she overtook Christy Walton as the world’s richest woman and was included on the Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Rinehart’s net worth dropped significantly over the following few years due to a slowdown in the Australian mining sector, however her fortune remains immense.

Rinehart first appeared on the 1992 Financial Review Rich List (at the time called the BRW Rich 200, published annually in the BRW magazine, following the death of her father earlier that year. She has appeared every year since, and became a billionaire in 2006. Due to Australia’s mining boom in the early 21st century, Rinehart’s wealth increased significantly since 2010, and she diversified investments into media, taking holdings in Ten Network Holdings and Fairfax Media. According to BRW, she became Australia’s richest woman in 2010, and Australia’s richest person in 2011, and the first woman to lead the list. During 2012, BRW claimed Rinehart was the world’s richest woman, surpassing Wal-Mart owner Christy Walton.

In 2007, she first appeared on Forbes Asia Australia’s 40 Richest, with an estimated wealth of US$1 billion; more than doubling that the next year to US$2.4 billion; and then, in spite of the global financial crisis, by 2011 had more than trebled to US$9 billion; doubled again in 2012 to US$18 billion; a slight reduction in 2013 to US$17 billion; and a slight increase in 2014 to US$17.6 billion. While still Australia’s richest person, her wealth had reduced to US$12.3 billion by 2015 according to Forbes, and in 2016 Forbes assessed her net worth at US$8.5 billion, placing her second on the list. Releasing the results in February 2011, Forbes was the first to name her as Australia’s richest person; with BRW conferring the same title in May that year.

In June 2011, Citigroup estimated that she was on course to overtake Carlos Slim, the Mexican magnate worth GB£46 billion and Bill Gates, who is worth GB£35 billion, mainly because she owns her companies outright. Using a price-to-earnings ratio of 11:1 that applied at that time to her business partner, Rio Tinto, the Australian internet business news service, SmartCompany, stated: “It is possible to see Rinehart’s portfolio of coal and iron ore production spinning off annual profits approaching US$10 billion”, giving her a “personal net worth valuation of more than US$100 billion”. In January 2012, there were further media reports that Rinehart’s estimated wealth has increased to A$20 billion following estimates that the Roy Hill project was notionally valued at A$10 billion.

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Forbes magazine ranked her as the fourth richest woman in 2012 with US$18 billion; the fifth richest woman in 2013 with US$17 billion; and the sixth richest woman in 2014 with US$17.6 billion.

In 2012, BRW estimated her wealth at A$29.17 billion, with Ivan Glasenberg being her closest rival, with net wealth estimated at A$7.4 billion. At the time BRW stated that it was possible Rinehart would become the first person with a net wealth of US$100 billion.

As of December 2012, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Rinehart was the 37th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of US$18.6 billion.

Rinehart’s wealth rankings since 2013 have been adversely impacted by the fall in the wholesale iron ore price and the fall in the AUD/USD exchange rate. In May 2016 she had fallen from wealthiest Australian in 2011 to fourth with A$6.06 billion surpassed by property developer Harry Triguboff with A$10.62 billion. Yet according to the 2017 Financial Review Rich 200, Rinehart had an estimated net worth of A$10.40 billion and was placed third on the list of wealthiest Australians.

 

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