Ben Woodhead Deputy editor - digital

Ben Woodhead is deputy editor - digital at the Financial Review Group. He writes on business, technology, politics and the economy and can be found on BRW, The Australian Financial Review and Smart Investor.

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Meet Australia’s richest women

Published 01 June 2012 12:12, Updated 04 June 2012 13:13

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Meet Australia’s richest women

$300 million: Nicole Kidman’s $300 million fortune has its basis in a hefty 2002 divorce settlement with Top Gun star Tom Cruise. Photo: Reuters

Some, like Gina Rinehart and Nicole Kidman are familiar faces. Many keep a low profile and seldom flaunt their wealth in public. Others, like Angela Bennett, are downright reclusive. Meet Australia’s 16 wealthiest women.

1. GINA RINEHART – $29.17 BILLION

The world’s richest woman, mining heiress Gina Rinehart needs no introduction. The daughter of late WA mining identity Lang Hangcock has parlayed a multi-million inheritance into a multi-billion dollar empire by keeping a tight rein on her company Hancock Prospecting.

Intensely private, yet seemingly unable to avoid the glare of the public spotlight, the 58-year-old widowed mother of four enjoyed a surge in wealth from a little over $10 billion a year ago to $29.17 billion in this year’s BRW Rich 200.

The rise in fortune has her mixing it with the wealthiest men in the world, although she still has some way to go before she enters the $US60-$US70 billion bracket occupied by the world’s two richest blokes, Carlos Slim Helu and Bill Gates.

2. ANGELA BENNETT – $2.03 BILLION

Like Gina Rinehart, Australia’s second richest woman is also a private person. Angela Bennett (67) makes her first appearance on the BRW Rich 200 as an individual this year following the death of her brother Michael Wright in April.

Bennett’s wealth stems from the same place as Rinehart’s, WA’s Pilbara, where her father Peter Wright and his mate Lang Hancock (Rinehart’s father) forged a partnership that was to create untold wealth. In 1962 Wright and Hancock inked an agreement with Rio Tinto under which the global mining giant pays out a 2.5 per cent royalty from its Hamersley Iron business.

In 2011, Rio’s gross revenue from Hamersley was $US21.6 billion, up from $US8.9 billion in 2009.

3. VICKY TEOH – $525 MILLION

Vicky and husband David Teoh were unknown to most Australians before they made their first appearance in the Rich 200 in 2010. The couple share their wealth from listed telecommunications outfit SP Telemedia, which was formed in 2008 through the reverse takeover of SPT by the Teoh’s TPG.

The largest shareholders in SP Telemedia, Vicky Teoh’s (56) wealth has blossomed along with the company’s share price.

4. CHARLOTTE VIDOR – $485 MILLION

Charlotte Vidor appears on the 2012 Rich 200 alongside husband Irvin. The couple, in their late 70s, made their fortune in property, where their Toga Group (established in 1963) owns and manages a raft of brands including Medina Apartment Hotels, Vibe Hotels and Travelodge.

5. IMELDA ROCHE – $440 MILLION

The wife of Bill Roche, Imelda (77) is another Rich 200 member who shares wealth with their partner. Originally gaining wealth through establishing the Australian branch of Nutrimetics, which they flogged to Sara Lee form $150 million in the late 1990s, the Roches now oversee a substantial property and investment portfolio from Sydney.

6. MARY FAIRFAX – $430 MILLION

The widow of publishing magnate Warwick Fairfax, eighty-nine year old Mary Fairfax’s wealth these days is derived from property, rather than the media. Lady Mary’s cash flow is derived primarily from the development of her Harrington Park estate in Sydney’s Camden area, as well as a property portfolio that includes a number of hotel and residential holdings.

7. NAOMI MILGROM – $375 MILLION

As the owner of fashion retailer Sussan, it’s not surprising Naomi Milgrom’s (59) wealth took a bit of a hit over the past year. The daughter or retail king Marc Besen, Milgrom bought out the family business in 2003 and turns over about $500 million a year through its Sussan, Sportsgirl and Suzanne Grae brands.

8. CHRISTINA QUINN – $350 MILLION

One half of another wealthy couple, Christina Quinn (54) derives her fortune from VIP Pet Foods, alongside husband Tony. The Scottish couple, who emigrated to Australian in the early 1980s, established VIP Pet Foods in 1994, with the company now believed to be the world’s biggest manufacturer of chilled pet foods.

9. DIANA GROLLO – $340 MILLION

As the name suggests, Diana Grollo (64) and husband Rino’s riches stem from property. The sister-in-law of Bruno Grollo, Diana’s branch of the family owns construction company Equiset, as well as interests in Victoria’s Mount Buller ski resort and the Great Barrier Reef Undersea Explorer – not to mention a half-stake in Melbourne’s landmark Rialto tower.

10. IRIS LUSTIG-MOAR – $320 MILLION

Max Moar and Iris Lustig-Moar (67) may be divorced but their property development business Lustig & Moar Group continues to be a money spinner for the two. The former couple’s wealth received a small bump up in 2012 courtesy of the success of the Lucient and Silverleaf apartment blocks in Melbourne.

11. PATRICIA ILHAN – $300 MILLION

The widow of ‘Crazy John’ mobile phone entrepreneur John Ilhan, Patricia Ilhan (48) sold the family business to Vodafone after her husband’s death and has since diversified into property and other investments. A shade under half her fortune is in property in 2012, with Australian equities, fixed interest and infrastructure investments making up the lion’s share of what’s left.

A mother of four children aged five to 14, Ilhan has drawn on a posse of trusted advisers and her experience in the corporate world – including time at Telstra – to increase her wealth.

12. NICOLE KIDMAN – $300 MILLION

Yes, that Nicole Kidman. The twice married former Mrs Tom Cruise splits her time between Sydney and Nashville and enjoys a property portfolio that has its roots in a 2002 divorce settlement with the Top Gun star. Now married to Aussie country music star Keith Urban, Kidman (44) suffered a slight fall in wealth from 2011, when she was valued at $304 million.

13. MARYLYN NEW –$250 MILLION

Marylyn New’s (67) wealth has its origins in her 1990 sale of brick maker Midland Brick to Boral for $200 million. The Perth-based divorcee now primarily plays in property and earlier this year offloaded the Freemantle Esplanade Hotel to Singaporean investors for $90 million.

14. SUSAN MARCHANT – $245 MILLION

Another divorcee in the Rich 200, Susan Marchant (64) earns her keep in agribusiness, where her Carrington Farms business, inherited from her father in the late 1990s, runs a portfolio of cattle, sheep, grain and cotton properties on the Queensland-NSW border.

15. JAN CAMERON – $235 MILLION

The sometimes controversial founder of outdoor clothing manufacturer Kathmandu has, like many in the retail sector, suffered falling wealth of late. Last year BRW’s Rich 200 valued Jan Cameron (59) at $295 million, but the entrepreneur has seen a fair chunk of that ebb away of late.

Hobart-based Cameron cashed in big time in 2006 when she offloaded Kathmandu to private equity interests for $247 million, but hasn’t been so lucky with her purchase of Australian Discount Retail, which is now Retail Adventures. Cameron snapped up ADR for about $70 million when the company went into administration, picking up a network of discount stories including Go-Lo and Chickenfeed in the process.

16. THERESE REIN – $210 MILLION

The wife of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Therese Rein is one of the few women in the Rich 200 to have made it there purely in her own right. A 53-year-old mother of three, Rein founded international employment firm Ingeus, which started life in 1989 as Work Directions.

Ingeus, which Rein runs as managing director, now touts an international network of more than 150 offices in locations as diverse as Sweden, Korea, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

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