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Apr 22, 2009

Richard Pratt: rich man, beggar man, thief

With Richard Pratt sadly close to succumbing to cancer, his legacy in business and philanthropic circles remains unwritten. Adam Schwab has a shot at finishing the job.

Adam Schwab — Business director and commentator

Adam Schwab

Business director and commentator

With Richard Pratt sadly close to succumbing to cancer, his legacy in business and philanthropic circles remains unwritten. While his wealth is almost impossible to determine due to the private nature of his Visy cardboard and recycling empire, last year, BRW estimated Pratt’s net worth at more than $5 billion. Recently, US magazine Forbes placed Pratt as the 468th richest person in the world with a more conservative appraisal of his wealth as being US$1.6 billion.

Pratt, like his contemporary Frank Lowy, is a true Australian business success story. Born in Poland in 1934, Pratt’s family fled Nazi persecution in 1939 to move to country Victoria. Pratt’s father Leon, originally a fruit grower in Shepparton, later realised that growers required boxes for their product. It was a business that was rapidly expanded by Pratt after his father’s death in 1969. Visy now has more than 9000 employees and operations across the globe.

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