15/10/2008 - 22:00

$14bn off rich list

15/10/2008 - 22:00

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ABOUT $14 billion has disappeared from the share portfolios of Western Australia's 20 wealthiest company directors since share prices last peaked.

ABOUT $14 billion has disappeared from the share portfolios of Western Australia's 20 wealthiest company directors since share prices last peaked.

Although the share market regained some strength this week, WA's rich list has suffered huge paper losses, with some share portfolios down by as much as 87 per cent from the peak.

Mining company directors have been the most affected by weak share prices.

Fortescue Metals Group CEO Andrew Forrest's portfolio has fallen in value by $9 billion since the company's share price peaked last June.

However, Mr Forrest still holds shares worth about $4 billion, at market close on Tuesday October 14, which puts him back almost exactly where he was a year ago.

Fortescue directors Graeme Rowley, Russel Scrimshaw and John Cunningham all feature in the top 20 losers with their stakes in the company dropping by $175 million, $99 million and $86 million respectively.

After Mr Forrest, the biggest loss in portfolio value was suffered by media mogul Kerry Stokes, whose majority stake in Seven Network has fallen by 58 per cent.

Aquila Resources directors Tony Poli and Charles Bass were recently given tidy bonuses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but their shareholdings in the iron ore and coal company fell by 70 per cent in value.

Murchison Metals executive chairman Paul Kopejtka, Great Southern non-executive director John Young, and Carrick Gold chief executive Frank Carr recorded the sharpest portfolio value decrease since their company's share price last peaked.

Mr Kopejtka's stake dropped by 84 per cent to $18 million, while Mr Young's dropped by 81 per cent down to $20 million, and Mr Carr's dropped by 75 per cent, to 28 million.

While the value of listed shares have fluctuated wildly during the past year, outside observers are left to wonder about the real wealth of private business owners.

Hancock Prospecting boss Gina Rinehart derives her wealth from long-running iron ore royalties and the Hope Downs mining joint venture with Rio Tinto.

Business magazine BRW estimated last July that Ms Rinehart was worth $4.4 billion, at the same Mr Forrest was officially ranked as Australia's wealthiest person with an estimated worth of $9.4 billion.

The current volatility is unlikely to trouble private investors like Stan Perron, who will continue to enjoy steady income from his big shopping centre portfolio, and Ralph Sarich, who is cashed up after selling much of his commercial property portfolio.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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