RICH PICKINGS: Tracing Rinehart's commodity rout

Gina Rinehart tops our end-of-year rich list, but her wealth has taken a major hit as commodity prices tumble. Still, she's not the biggest loser in 2011.

Falling iron ore prices have failed to prevent Gina Rinehart from retaining top spot on SmartCompany’s special end-of-year rich list.

While the iron ore empress has seen her fortune fall below the magical $10 billion mark, Rinehart remains Australia’s richest person, with an estimated fortune of $8.5 billion.

That means her fortune has dropped by around $1.8 billion since the publication of BRW’s Rich 200 edition in May, but she isn’t the biggest loser for the year.

That title goes to Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg, who has been on an incredible wealth roller-coaster.

He emerged from the float of the commodities trading giant with a fortune of about $9 billion, and was listed on the BRW list with a fortune of $8.8 billion in May. But a 27 per cent fall in the value of Glencore shares has seen the value of his holding fall to $6.6 billion, down a whopping $2.6 billion.

In total, the 15 billionaires at the top of the BRW list have seen their value fall by a total of $7.9 billion, from $67.2 billion on May 26 to $59.3 billion based on current estimates.

That’s a fall of 11.8 per cent, which is actually markedly worse than the 8.1 per cent fall in the benchmark ASX 200 index over the same period.

Here’s how the end-of-year rich list stands. BRW’s Rich 200 valuations from May have been used as a base and have then been adjusted for share price movements. These are estimates only.

1. Gina Rinehart – $8.5 billion

Given Rinehart’s fortune is tied to that of her joint venture partner Rio Tinto, so the big miner’s share price provides a handy proxy for Rinehart’s very private fortune. Recent falls in commodity prices have taken a toll.

2. Ivan Glasenberg - $6.2 billion

The 27 per cent fall in Glencore’s share price since listing in May has eaten into its CEO's fortune. As with Rinehart, falling commodity prices have played a big part.

3. Anthony Pratt - $5.4 billion

The Pratt family’s interests are diverse, but packaging giant and rival Amcor provides a reasonable proxy. Its shares are up slightly since May and so is Pratt’s estimate.

4. Andrew Forrest – $4.7 billion

Twiggy’s fortune has followed the iron ore price down, with $1.48 billion of his wealth eroding since the BRW Rich 200.

5. Frank Lowy - $4.7 billon

Frank Lowy’s stakes in Westfield’s various companies have fallen by about $200 million to just over $2 billion, accounting for the small fall in his wealth.

6. Clive Palmer - $4.6 billion

Getting a line on Palmer’s mainly undeveloped coal interests isn’t easy. We’ve used a 9 per cent drop in the price of Queensland coal as a guide, meaning a $450 million fall in his fortune.

7. Harry Triguboff - $4.3 billion

Sydney apartment prices are steady (not bad in the current property market) and so is Harry’s fortune.

8. James Packer - $3.9 billion

Moderate falls in the value of shares in Crown and Consolidated Media account for a slight fall in Packer’s wealth.

9. John Gandel - $3.5 billion

Property magnate John Gandel has seen his fortune increase slightly along with the value of shares in CFS Retail Trust.

10. Chris Wallin - $2.8 billion

As with Palmer, a 9 per cent fall in the coal price has taken a small chunk off Wallin’s fortune.

11. Len Buckeridge - $2.7 billion

The Perth building billionaire’s fortune is hard to line up. We’ve used fellow building company Brickworks as a company and its shares have risen slightly since May.

12. Kerry Stokes - $2.2 billion

About $350 million has been sliced off the fortune of Kerry Stokes, which probably isn’t bad given the turmoil in the media sector.

13. David Hains - $2.1 billion

Low-profile investor David Hains is another one that is hard to line up. Given many of his investments are overseas, we’ve used the MSCI World Index as a proxy. It has fallen about 11 per cent.

14. Kerr Neilsen - $1.9 billion

Platinum Asset Management chief Kerr Neilsen has seen the value of his fortune fall slightly, in line with a moderate share price fall.

15. Angela Bennett & Michael Wright - $1.8 billion

As with Rinehart, Rio Tinto provides the best proxy for the wealth of this brother and sister combination.


NameCurrent Wealth ($bn)Wealth on May 26 ($bn)Change ($bn)
Gina Rinehart8.510.31-1.81
Ivan Glasenberg6.28.8-2.62
Anthony Pratt5.45.180.22
Andrew Forrest4.76.18-1.48
Frank Lowy4.74.98-0.28
Clive Palmer4.65.05-0.45
Harry Triguboff4.34.30
James Packer3.94.16-0.26
John Gandel3.53.450.05
Chris Wallin2.83.1-0.3
Len Buckeridge2.72.60.1
Kerry Stokes2.22.55-0.35
David Hains2.12.3-0.2
Kerr Neilsen1.92.1-0.2
Angela Bennett and Michael Wright1.82.14-0.34

The 11 per cent fall in the value of the top 15 rich list members is probably a reasonable guide to what we might see across the entire Rich 200 in 2012, unless markets can start to lift in the next six months or so.

The key will be what happens with commodity prices. The top of the rich list is so dominated by miners that they will have a huge say on how the total wealth of the list rises and falls.

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