Ramsay Healthcare is the acknowledged leader of the Australian healthcare sector — and a major force globally. It is worth $16.2 billion and has been a major player politically here with donations mostly flowing to the Liberal Party, especially when its late founder, Paul Ramsay, was alive. He died in May 2014, and most of his then 36% stake in Ramsay became a charitable trust, the largest in the country — worth then $3.3 billion.

Some of his stake was sold off to meet the terms of his will, but two substantial shareholding notices quietly filed on June 30 and July 1 revealed that the Paul Ramsay Foundation now holds a 32.16% stake in the company, or 64.999 million shares. Last week Ramsay Health reported a 17% growth in profit in the last financial year, and the stock gained 21% in the last year. At last Friday’s close Ramsay Health was worth $16.2 billion and the foundation’s stake was valued at a more than $5.28 billion. That will generate more than $73 million in dividend income in the past year for the charity.

If the trust were a person, it would be close to the sixth-richest individual in the county, challenging James Packer (an estimated $6.08 billion) for that slot. Indeed, were Paul Ramsay still alive, he would be challenging Packer. The foundation makes Ramsay Health Care impervious to takeover, much to the chagrin of any number of urgers and coat tuggers in the investment banking class, hedge funds and others (such as excitable media types) who resent the flow of money away from them to the foundation and charitable works.

The Ramsay Foundation made its first major grant in June, to the Beacon Foundation for an education program in regional Tasmania. The June 30 filing for the Paul Ramsay Foundation was the first being titled “Notice of an initial substantial holder”. The notice filed July 1 was a change of substantial notice — the reduction from just over 36% to 32.16%. Attached to that notice was the details of the grant of probate for Paul Ramsay’s estate on September 25, 2014. Intriguingly the probate notice reveals Paul Ramsay’s will was dated February 21, 2014, and his date of death was just two and a half months later on May 1.

Peter Fray

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