Thursday, May 24, 2012

BRW Rich 200: Congratulations Therese Rein

My favourite multimillionaire

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd may for the moment no longer be A-list material, but his wife Therese Rein today joins one of the most exclusive clubs of them all.

Weighing in at $210 million she elbows her way into the BRW Rich 200 list at position 199.

Being a woman puts her in even rarer company. Only 16 women feature in the Business Review Weekly Rich 200, up from 15 last year.

Rarer still, she’s done it herself. BRW editor in chief Kate Mills says most of the people in the list do it from inherited wealth.

Even Gina Rinehart, the richest woman in the world with $18.87 billion (who again tops the list) did it after inheriting $75 million and mining royalties.

“That should not take away from Gina’s achievement,” says Ms Mills. “She could have done nothing, she could have taken the money and lived a good and happy life. We celebrate the fact that she didn’t. She took on a male-dominated industry and now she sits on top of it.”

Ms Rinehart yesterday suffered an unusual setback, being passed over for a seat on the board of Fairfax Media, publisher of BRW and The Age. The seat went to accountant James Millar, a former head of former Ernst & Young. Ms Rinehart owns 12.8 per cent of Fairfax.

“Therese is different from Gina,” say Ms Mills. “It is very difficult to build up enough wealth to get on the list within a generation. That’s why there are so many families and dynasties on it"....

“Mining magnate Nathan Tinkler is an exception. He has build massive wealth in a single lifetime, but he has done it in a booming sector. Therese is in the welfare sector, it isn’t booming and it is regulation-driven. Every time a law comes out about occupation health and safety, organisations like Therese Rein’s think there is going to be work out there explaining it to people.”

The size of Ms Rein’s wealth was unclear until the election of her husband’s government in 2007 forced her to sell the Australian arm of her employment services agency for what BRW believes was $170 million.

“Not all of that went to her, some of it would have been covered by debt,” says Ms Mills who will not confirm whether she spoke to Ms Rein in preparing the list. “In some ways it is what she did next that was more extraordinary. She went to United Kingdom and took advantage of opportunities opening up under the Blair Labour government and then under the Cameron conservatives.”

“In the past year she has done an employment services deal with Cameron’s government worth $1.4 billion over five years. The UK arm of her firm Ingeus is a joint venture with the consulting firm Deloitte, so the income will be shared.”

“She has ridden on the back of what you might call the outsourcing of the state, things such as welfare to work programs. It has happened throughout the West, and Ingeus is now in eight nations.”

Ms Mills is farm from certain Ms Rein will stay in the list. There’s a lot of movement at the bottom as some people join the top 200 and the wealth of others slip below it. The top is more stable, although even there there are surprises. Mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer slipped around $1 billion in the latest survey following a number of deals that didn’t work out.

In an extreme sense membership of the list is voluntary. Some years ago when BRW approached philanthropist Dick Smith to confirm his wealth for the list he said he would would give away assets rather than be on it, which he did, slipping below the cut-off point.

In today's Age

BRW Top 5

Gina Rinehart $29.17 b Resources
Ivan Glasenberg $ 7.40 b Resources
Frank Lowy $6.47 b Property
Andrew Forrest $5.89 b Resources
Anthony Pratt & family $5.45 b Manufacturing, investment

Women – Top 5

Gina Rinehart $29.17 b Resources
Angela Bennett $2.03 b Resources
Vicky Teoh $525 m Technology
Charlotte Vidor $485 m Property
Imelda Roche $440 m Property

Families – Top 5

Smorgon $2.63 b Investment, property
Liberman $2.20 b Investment
Besen $2.15 b Property, retail
Wright $1.95 b Resources
Myer $1.94 b Retail, property

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