Crikey was the first publication in Australia to declare that Platinum Asset Management founder Kerr Neilson was seriously rich. On 23 May, 2005 we included him on the Crikey Revised Wealth (CRW) list with an estimated fortune of $300 million.
BRW finally popped him on the 2006 Rich List in May last year with a very exact net worth of $443 million, but now the prospectus for the forthcoming Platinum float suggests the 57-year-old former BT fund manager is actually worth close to $3 billion.
Neilson is selling a 20% stake that will see him personally pocket $561 million and then retain a holding worth $1.74 billion based on the $5-a-share float price. Add in another $500 million worth of salary and dividends over the years and Neilson is likely to be worth about $3 billion, putting him in the top five after the Murdoch, Packer, Lowy and Pratt families.
Never before has an Australian created such a vast personal fortune below the radar. This is where Neilson will fit in to the league ladder in terms of most valuable family investments in listed companies based on last night’s closing prices:
News Corp, Murdoch Family: $11.22 billion
PBL, Packer Family: $5.2 billion
Westfield, Lowy Family: $3.59 billion
Fortescue, Andrew Forrest: $2.32 billion
Aristocrat, Ainsworth Family: $2.24 billion
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Reece, Wilson family: $1.86 billion
Platinum, Neilson family: $1.74 billion
Harvey Norman, Harvey family $1.68 billion
Whilst Australia has allowed its great resource projects to largely fall into foreign hands, the same can’t be said about the financial services industry which comprises 42% of ASX market capitalisation, well above the global average of 26%.
Financial ticket clippers on debt, equity and financial transactions have made out like bandits over the past decade and many of Neilson’s 66 staff are now also seriously wealth.
One of them, portfolio manager Andrew Clifford, will retain a 6.2% stake worth $174 million so he too will make it onto the CRW and BRW Rich lists.
Clifford and Neilson really should be sending Paul Keating a few cases of Grange because it is the compulsory shovelling of $1 trillion into super that had made their fortunes.