Andrew Heathcote Rich Lists editor

Andrew is BRW's Rich lists editor and is responsible for the Rich 200 and Young Rich flagship issues. He also reports on matters relating to wealth and investment for BRW and The Australian Financial Review.

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Ups and downs

Published 26 January 2012 09:50, Updated 27 January 2012 16:37

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In what may be a sign of the times, immigration detention is in and Atlantic salmon is out. The BRW Top 1000 list for 2011 has 82 new entrants and the same number of departures with detention services provider Serco Group joining the list and salmon farmers Tassal leaving it.

Click here to be taken to the Top 1000 table of the biggest organisations in Australia.

Serco is the Australian division of the global services firm of the same name, which provides prison and immigration detention services to state and federal governments. It had revenue of $464.5 million in 2011, which placed it at 697th on the Top 1000 list of the biggest companies in Australia.

Tassal departs the list this year after its revenue fell from $412.9 million in 2010, as reported in the 2010 annual report, to $222.6 million in 2011. The listed company has been struggling with falling salmon prices and has been subject to takeover rumours.

The companies on the Top 1000 are many and varied. The addition of 82 newcomers to this year’s list is down on the 94 new names last year and the record 121 additions in 2009. The high level of turnover in the 2009 result was largely a product of the global financial crisis and the subsequent reduction in turnover might be construed as a positive indicator for the local economy.

Other positives to emerge include the addition of retailers Kathmandu (929th position with $306.4 million in revenue) and Witchery (995th with $271.5 million.) The woes of the retail sector have been widely reported and other retailers may find it more difficult to force their way onto the list next year.

Not surprisingly, the mining sector is responsible for many of the new names. These include Western Areas, a Perth-based nickel mining company that made the list in 686th position with revenue of $475.3 million.

Atlas Iron, an iron ore producer, also makes the list. Its revenue-earning capacity has been boosted by its acquisitive management – it has made at least four acquisitions over the past two years. Atlas Iron’s revenue was $598.6 million in 2011, giving it 553rd place on the list.

Some of the most notable additions have been brought about by demergers of major companies. These include Echo Entertainment Group, which runs casinos and convention centres including Star (in Sydney), Jupiters Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane. The $2.5 billion company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in June last year after being spun off from Tabcorp Holdings.

Echo’s $1.6 billion revenue result for 2011 puts it in 206th position on the Top 1000. (Tabcorp has fallen to 104th spot with $3 billion in revenue from 64th last year following the demerger.)

Treasury Wine Estates (207th with $1.6 billion in revenue) is Foster’s Group’s former wine business. It was spun off in May last year to boost valuations and help management of both companies focus on separate objectives.

Last December, Foster’s announced that its shareholders had approved a $12.3 billion takeover by global brewing giant SABMiller. It has since been removed from the Australian Stock Exchange. Foster’s appears in this edition of the Top 1000 (in 135th place with $2.6 billion in revenue) but it will not appear next year.

DuluxGroup is another newcomer to the list due to a demerger. It split from the industrial manufacturer Orica in July 2010 and joins the Top 1000 in 328th position with revenue of $1.1 billion.

The acquisition of sports retailer Rebel Group by Super Retail Group in October 2011 for $610 million has led to its removal from the list.

The beleaguered healthcare IT company iSoft Group has also been removed after being acquired by New York Stock Exchange-listed Computer Sciences Corporation in July last year. Last year’s Top 1000 reveals that iSoft made a $381.9 million loss on $434.9 million revenue in 2010.

Fast-food chain Domino’s Pizza and the oil and gas services business Halliburton were two of the 39 companies to miss the list this year due to insufficient revenue.

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