The Australian Financial Review (AFR) has published its 2019 Rich List and once again a number industry big guns have been named in the top 200.

Anthony Pratt and family remain at the top of the list having increased their worth by around $2.5bn to $15.57bn, but TheShout has scoured the top 200 AFR list and found those with links to Australia’s liquor and hospitality industry.

Len Ainsworth & family – $4.01bn – Although Ainsworth sold most of his Ainsworth Game Technology to Austria’s Novomatic in 2016 for $473m, he remains executive chair of the business and maintains his huge fortune built on poker machines. Ainsworth now devotes most of his time to medical charities after a false cancer diagnosis in 1994 saw him give up control of his first pokie-making business, Aristocrat.

Lindsay Fox – $3.31bn – After buying the beverage logistics company BevChain in 2017, Fox’s transport business became an important part of the industry. The warehousing and distribution company delivers in excess of 2.5 billion serving units to the liquor industry every year, calling on 25,000 delivery points each week.

Marc Besen & family – $2.34bn – The Sussan Group has been the basis of Besen’s fortune as well as a stake in Melbourne’s Highpoint shopping centre, which he sold in 2017 for $680m. While property is key for Besen, he also owns the TarraWarra Estate winery in the Yarra Valley, which is particularly known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Gerry Harvey – $1.90bn – Although Harvey is most well-known for his Harvey Norman retail business, he is also part of a pub and hotel buying consortium with Robert Whyte and Arthur Laundy, which gives him a link to the industry.

John Casella & family – $1.57bn – The popularity of Casella’s YellowTail sparkling wine in the United States has been a major driving force behind the family’s wealth. Casella exports 80 per cent of its product to the US and the declining Australian dollar has served to make it even more popular. While there have been some legal issues within the family, Casella has recently bought a number of brands including Peter Lehmann, Morris Wines and Baileys of Glenrowan.

Russel Withers & family – $1.33bn – A new listing for the industry, Withers is the owner of the 7-Eleven franchise, which now comprises more than 650 stores. In August last year 7-Eleven bought a majority stake in online delivery service Tipple, which partners with independent bottle shops to facilitate ‘last-mile’ delivery logistics across Melbourne and Sydney.

Bruce Mathieson – $1.32bn – Mathieson is a hotel and pokie owning giant, thanks to his 25 per cent stake in the ALH pubs business, which includes the largest number of pokies in the country – the remaining 75 per cent of the business is owned by Woolworths. The AFR reports that the business has spat out more than $200m in dividends in the past two financial years alone.

Chris Morris – $1.13bn – The bulk of Morris’ wealth comes from his majority shareholding in Computershare, but it’s his Colonial Leisure Group (GLC) which ties him to the industry. CLG owns and operates about $300m worth of venues in Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, including a diverse range of hospitality experiences including brewing, pubs, gaming, restaurants and resorts.

Sandy Oatley & family – $1.09bn – Oatley and his family inherited its wealth from Bob Oatley, who the AFR describe as “a sailing, wine and tourism legend”. Having established Rosemount Estate in 1969, Oatley sold the business to Treasury Wine Estate in 2001 for $1.4bn. The family’s holdings still include the Robert Oatley Vineyards business including the Robert Oatley, Wild Oats and Four in Hand brands.

Justin Hemmes & family – $1.06bn – This year sees Hemmes nudge past the one billion dollar mark as his Merivale pub empire continues to flourish. His recent purchase of the Three Weeds Hotel in Rozelle took the total number of Merivale venues to 73, making it Australia’s largest independent hospitality group. The AFT reported that Merivale increased its revenues by $50m for 2018.

Shaun Bonétt – $1bn – Bonétt is an entrepreneur and property developer and the founder and CEO of Precision Group which owns a number of shopping centres, with a portfolio value approaching $1bn. The AFR says that Precision also owns hotels and pubs, cementing Bonétt’s link to the industry.

Theo Karedis – $815m – Having established the Theo’s Liquor chain, Karedis sold to Coles in 2002 for $175m in cash and shares. That helped Karedis to establish the Arkadia private property group which now owns three hotels and 16 retail and homemaker centres across the east coast of Australia.

Allan Myres – $771m – Myres is a barrister who made his fortune and his industry association by investing in Polish brewery Grupa Żywiec. His other investments include farming and properties in his home town of Dunkeld, Victoria, including the Royal Mail Hotel.

Greg Farrell & family – $745m – Another Rich Lister who has made its fortune through the gaming industry. In 1993 the Farrell family won a 30-year monopoly over Tasmania’s pokies and Keno. The family also built Tasmania’s first legal casino at Wrest Point in 1968.

John Singleton – $670m – Although Singleton made his fortune in advertising he has gone on to making a number of investments across different industries including radio, horse-breeding and pubs. Although his Australian Pub Fund venture with former Qantas boss Geoff Dixon has sold a number of its pubs recently, Singleton does still have holdings in a number of venues.

Robert Whyte – $670m – Whyte’s Audant Investments includes multinational equity investments as well as more than $350m in net assets. The AFR reports that Whyte is also part of a pub and hotel purchasing consortium which includes Gerry Harvey and Arthur Laundy.

Arthur Laundy – $584m – Another pub operator on the Rich List, Laundy Hotels was established by Laundy’s father in 1945 and now has a portfolio of more than 60 pubs, hotels and bottleshops across Greater Sydney and regional New South Wales. The group recently added the Bells Hotel on Woolloomooloo Wharf to its portfolio.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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