The dilution of Paul Ramsay’s 51.25% stake in Ramsay Health Care down to 42.7%, after this week’s $200 million capital raising, makes for an interesting milestone in Australian corporate history.

Back in the crazy takeover fest of the 1980s, most large listed Australian companies finished up with major shareholders who were either individuals or other corporates. Open share registers were not all that common.

This reflected the easy finance on offer after financial deregulation and the raiding by entrepreneurs such as Alan Bond, John Elliott, Ron Brierley and John Spalvins. Many potential targets enlisted fellow corporates for defensive cross-shareholdings, such as what existed between Mayne Nickless and Amcor.

Looking at the ASX200 today and using a $1 billion capitalisation as the cut off point, Crikey can only come up with one remaining company than has an Australian individual or family with a majority shareholding – that being John B Fairfax at Rural Press who dominates with 53.5%.

Here is an interesting list of individuals or families with more than 10% of Australian listed companies that are capitalised at more than $1 billion.

Rural Press: John B Fairfax 53.5%
Seven Network: Kerry Stokes 42.9%
Ramsay Health Care: Paul Ramsay 42.7%
Aristocrat Leisure: Ainsworth family 40%
PBL: Kerry Packer 37.4%
Harvey Norman: Gerry Harvey 30.5%
Multiplex: John Roberts: 26%
Smorgon Steel: Smorgon family approx 25%
Billabong: Gordon Merchant 25.3%
Nufarm: Doug Rathbone 19.1%
Record Investments: David Coe and associates 17.4%
ABC Learning: Eddie Groves and relatives 13.6%
Toll Holdings: Paul Little 11.5%
Westfield: Lowy family 11%
News Corporation: Murdoch family 11% (29.8% of the voting stock)
Computershare: Chris Morris 10.2%

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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