Billionaire Gina Rinehart wealth swells as family split lingers

Gina Rinehart at her book launch, accompanied by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) and Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb (right). (Image by Australia’s Ministry for Trade and Investment, Wikimedia Commons)

Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s fortune swelled $2.1 billion after her closely held company reported improved financial results on the back of higher iron ore sales.

Hancock Prospecting Pty’s revenue rose 39% for the year to June 30. Earnings also improved at the Perth-based group with a 90% increase in net profit to A$2.6 billion ($1.8 billion). The results lifted Rinehart’s wealth to $17.9 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a $3.7 billion increase since the beginning of the year.

While Rinehart’s fortune has grown, there’s long-standing division about how it will be shared

While Rinehart’s fortune has grown, there’s long-standing division about how it will be shared. Legal action over a family trust began in 2011. A provision for dividends payable to the beneficiaries of the trust rose from A$1.63 billion to about A$1.85 billion, according to a company statement on the latest financial results. A court decided this year that the dispute with two of her children, John and Bianca, should be heard behind closed doors.

Dividends relating to the dispute “have not yet been able to be paid, and cannot be paid until those disputes are resolved,” according to the statement.

The latest jump puts Rinehart back among the world’s 10 richest women. She’s the second-richest woman in the Asia Pacific region after Chinese real estate titan Yang Huiyan, who’s worth $24.1 billion. Rinehart tops Bloomberg’s list of the richest Australians ahead of Harry Triguboff who ranks second with $9.4 billion.

Hancock Prospecting has benefited from a rise in iron ore prices and production improvements. Roy Hill, an iron ore project in the resource–rich Pilbara region, has lifted sales volumes while reducing costs, according to the company.

Improvements were also recorded in the agricultural business. In recent years, Rinehart has been a big buyer of livestock and agricultural land. The agriculture division achieved an 85% increase in revenue to A$137 million but remains a relatively small part of the overall business accounting for less than 2% of total revenue across the minerals-heavy group.

(Reporting by Andrew Heathcote)

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