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A stock picker with the platinum touch, Kerr Neilson did not have the best of years in 2011. As founder and managing director of fund manager Platinum Asset Management, his investment acumen has made him a billionaire and his clients very wealthy. Platinum’s flagship international fund lost 12 per cent of its value in 2011 – its worst performance since Neilson established Platinum in 1994 with backing from American billionaire George Soros. Platinum’s funds under management fell from $18.3 billion at the close of 2010 to $15.1 billion one year later. In February, Platinum reported a net profit of $67.2 million for the December 2011 half year, 14.4 per cent down on the $78.4 million of the previous corresponding period. Lauded as the
stock picker’s stock picker, it’s the kind of reversal that critics cannot resist, prompting one commentator to ask if Neilson had lost his knack. Platinum floated on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2007 at an 80 per cent premium to its issue price. That year, Neilson debuted as a billionaire on the Rich 200. Neilson cops the criticism for a bad year on the chin but vows that Platinum will learn from the experience and, at 62, looks forward to getting Platinum and its clients back on track. “I can’t think of a more fascinating [job] than this,” he told The Australian Financial Review. Neilson’s fortune may have dipped since 2011 but his mojo seems intact.