Reclusive internet millionaire tops self-made women rich list
The cabal of Australia's most powerful women has a new member, with a reclusive internet entrepreneur joining the likes of Julia Gillard and Gina Rinehart in the top echelon.
Vicky Teoh, a part owner of broadband service TPG with her husband, David, was on Thursday named by BRW as Australia's richest self-made woman with an estimated fortune of $390 million.
It's the first time BRW has compiled a "rich women" list and the self-made caveat excludes the likes of Rinehart, who founded her mining empire - valued by Forbes magazine at $16.75 billion - on an inheritance from her father.
Teoh topped Perth businesswoman Rhonda Wyllie, Melbourne's Patricia Ilhan and Hollywood actor Nicole Kidman to take the top spot in the BRW poll.
Vicky and David Teoh are
co-owners of listed telecommunications company TPG Telecom, which was formed in 2008 by the reverse takeover of SP Telemedia by the Teohs' TPG.
Malaysian-born Vicky Teoh, 57, moved to Australia in 1986 with her husband to form TPG Telecom as a computer equipment business, later branching out into providing internet connections.
Her husband is the executive chairman of the company but Vicky Teoh owns 18 per cent in her own right, with her shares rocketing from $125 million to $380 million in the past 12 months.
Little else is known about the publicity-averse businesswoman, who in spite of her growing profile - and unlike the similarly reclusive Rinehart - has managed to avoid being photographed by the media.
Given her company's bottom line has skyrocketed from $200 million to $2 billion in the past five years alone, and it's a public company, achieving such a well-protected private life could be a "difficulty", said BRW editor James Thomson.
"To pull that off at any time is extraordinary but to keep that level of mystery and privacy is incredible," Thomson said.
Since TPG Telecom was listed on the ASX in 2008 the company has been highly acquisitive. In March 2010, the Teohs' company paid $373 million for Brisbane-based optical fibre specialist Pipe Networks.
It was reported in 2011 that the Teohs bought the heritage-listed Mission to Seafarers building in Sydney for $4.75 million.
Rhonda Wyllie, the Perth-based businesswoman and widow of property developer Bill Wyllie, is cut from very different cloth.
The prominent socialite and philanthropist is regularly photographed at society bashes and has cultivated a high profile in her home town since her husband's death in 2006.
The non-executive director of the Wyllie Group has a wealth estimated by BRW at $346 million.
Patricia Ilhan, the wife of Crazy John's founder John Ilhan, took over the mobile phone retail company after her husband died of a heart attack and sold the business in 2008 for $150 million. She runs the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation and her wealth is estimated by the magazine at $320 million.
BRW's top five
1. Vicky Teoh - $390 million
2. Rhonda Wyllie - $346 million
3. Patricia Ilhan - $320 million
4. Nicole Kidman - $320 million
5. Charlotte Vidor - $250 million