The 2002 BRW Rich List is out and Crikey has skim read it and makes the following observations in no particular order:

Coke’s worldwide CEO Dougie Daft was smart to give up school teaching in the Hunter Valley as he’s now worth $240 million. Fellow US-based Aussie manager Geoffrey Bible has run Philip Morris since 1995 and is worth an estimated $120 million on debut ahead of his retirement in August. We’re surprised that sacked Ford CEO Jac Nasser is not mentioned and Gary Pemberton is the only other traditional CEO on the list but this did not come from his time at Brambles but rather from buying into booming sportswear company Billabong when he became chairman.


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BRW reckons John Singleton has only risen from $245 million to $250 million but we reckon he’s worth closer to $500 million now that 2GB is booming and after the sale of Eye Corp to Ten. Singo’s traditional ad business is thriving and he’s splashing money around all over the place into horses, Lonely Planet, Text Media (briefly) and Indonesian television such that he’s obviously got plenty more than BRW realises.


It is amusing that BRW pretends it can come up with precise figures such as the $813 million they ascribe to Solly Lew, up from $800 million last year. Solly dropped many tens of millions on Ansett and with Coles Myer shares tumbling we can’t work out how on earth he could have risen for the year.


Crikey met Robert Whyte at a Toaster cocktail party in 2000 and he professed to be interested in the Crikey business model. Alas, he didn’t write out a 7-figure cheque but we reckon he’s much richer than the $270 million attributed (up from $235 million last year). Crikey has broken the story on the $100 million profit Whytey pocketed through a Commonwealth Bank options play put together by Challenger International. He also cleaned up on St George, Channel 10 and the Eye Corp sale to such an extent that we reckon he’s worth closer to $500 million.


Lloydie’s $690 million is massively overstated and we reckon the former real estate agent turned casino mogul is really closer to $400 million. He’s dropped plenty backing the Shale oil project in Queensland and hung on to his PBL shares when he should have sold like his mate Ron Walker did at $16.


Crikey will soon be taking Looksmart founder Evan Thornley up on his offer to conduct an online AGM with fellow Crikey subscribers but it is good to see he’s bounced back this year and is up from $90 million to $121 million after Looksmart stock recovered from 3c to 30c. Other tech investors were not so lucky as Open Telecommunications founder Wayne Passlow suffered the biggest fall from grace going from $250 million to a non-starter (less than $85m) and has cost the Murdochs and Packers about $50 million along the way. Jodee Rich was the next most dramatic exit going from $220 million to a no-show.


Crikey is bemused that the Lamb family can sell 2UE and other assets to Southern Cross Broadcasting last year for a hefty $90 million yet BRW only lifts the family’s wealth by $5 million to $195 million. Surely, they are now up to about $250 million, for as Singo has described it, they walked away with all the lollies.


How can the Belgiorno-Nettis family go from $230 million to $250 million when Transfield is selling everything in site to fund a settlement with estranged family member Marco. After floating Transfield to help fund a $150 million settlement with Transurban they’ve just sold more of their shares and are even dumping their holding in Perisher Blue. With such a public family brawl, it also seems odd that they are not listed in the families section.


Daniel Chen’s operations cost Tricontinental and Victorian taxpayers tens of millions of dollars through the collapsed Merv Brown retail group but the Chinaman is back and his fortune is up from $166 million to $177 million. Give some of it back son if you’re travelling so well. Max Beck and Michael Buxton are two others whose entrepreneurial dealings cost Trico $75 million and South Australian taxpayers about $300 million on 333 Collins St in Melbourne. Buxton is worth $100 million and we reckon Beck’s $115 million is conservative. Like Chen, these boys should write out a cheque to Victorian taxpayers to clear their consciences.


Crikey used to catch the school bus with the two children of colourful Greek businessman Spiro Stamoulis who still lives in that big kitcsh castle on Williamsons Rd in Templestowe. BRW reckons the lad made his cash from his soft drink empire but we’re not so sure. The Paul Keating backer is now purportedly a big mover and shaker in the Liberal Party and he even sued Bob Hawke over a Collins St property deal at one point. Whatever mystery business he’s doing must be working as BRW has lifted Spiro from $145 million to $188 million this year.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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