RICH PICKINGS:Quarter time

While the majority of Australian investors have taken a hammering over the past year, the first three months of 2009 wasn't that bad for a group of Australia's richest investors.

Australia’s 20 richest investors – a list that includes James Packer, Frank Lowy, Kerry Stokes and Gerry Harvey – have started the year on a positive note, finally beating the market after taking a hammering for most of 2008.

While the All Ordinaries lost just under 4 per cent in the three months to March 31, these rich investors were able to limit their losses to just under 2 per cent. The total wealth held by these investors fell to $14.8 billion from $15.1 billion, although it is worth noting that their total publically listed wealth has dropped from $28.4 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2008.

A number of entrepreneurs actually managed to increase the value of their holdings, with James Packer’s investments up $98 million to $2.4 billion, and Andrew Forrest’s stake in Fortescue Metals climbing by around $624 million to $2.5 billion.

The biggest loser was Frank Lowy, whose stake in shopping centre empire Westfield fell $529 million to $1.8 billion. Another prominent loser was John B Fairfax, who saw the value of his stake in Fairfax Media drop $134 million to $218 million; it was worth $751 million at this time last year.

With a quarter of the year gone, it's time to take a look at the list of the 10 richest people in Australia. As you can see, the names have stayed the same, but the valuations are quite different.

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