Georgina Rinehart: Business phenomenon down under

When in 1992 Australian Georgina Rinehart inherited Hancock Prospecting, iron ore company of her father Lang Hancock, its cost was $50 million and it was mired in debt. Twenty years later, the "sluggish elephant," as her elderly father called her, topped the list of the richest women in the world with a fortune of 28 billion dollars.

A year ago, Gina Rinehart's wealth was estimated at 10 billion in U.S. currency. However, the rise in prices for iron ore, the main product of Hancock Prospecting, allowed a nearly three-fold increase. If the March issue of Forbes has said that the world's richest woman was Christy Walton, co-owner of the largest supermarket chain Wal-Mart, the last issue of BRW magazine has gave the palm to the "Iron Queen" of the Green continent. If the pace of price growth for the mining raw materials continues, it may well happen that Gina Rinehart will once head the list of fat cats without gender identification.

The future billionaire spent her childhood at iron ore mines of her father in the desert territories of Australia's Pilbara and Kimberley rich with minerals. The girl often accompanied Lang Hancock in travels to his lands, and was so imbued with the romance of the harsh mining business that when once she was asked what she thought of the standard of beauty, Gina said: "An iron ore mine." To help her father, who was her best friend, she even abandoned her studies at Sydney University.

In the early 1980's Hancock Prospecting was one of the most profitable Australian mining companies, since it developed the richest deposits of iron in the Pilbara in Western Australia that Lang Hancock discovered in the early 1950's. But it all changed after Filipino Lekson Rose, who was 39 years his junior, was hired to care for the elderly tycoon. Soon she became Gina's stepmother. Lang, who lost his mind over the young temperamental woman, started using his company as his own piggy bank.

His only daughter, rightly considering that her contribution to the success of Hancock Prospecting was enough to not overlook the old man's mania, began the fight against the woman who she personally introduced to the family. Gina fought with her father, and he began to call his favorite heiress a sluggish, vindictive and dishonest elephant.

Gina has never really been a beauty, but she was not to be called sluggish. She initiated a series of trials against her stepmother, accusing her of abusing the trust of her father, marital infidelity and waste of money. After the death of Lang in 1992, Gina tried to prove that Rose contributed to Lang's untimely death by arranging endless parties in a specially-built for her mansion Prix d'Amour. In fairness it should be noted that at the time of his death the founder of Hancock Prospecting was nearly 83 years old, so his death was unlikely "sudden". But despite that all Gina's attempts to sue the stepmother ended inconclusively.

Gina made every effort to save the family business. Due to the arbitrariness of the elderly Lang the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Gina realized that she would not be able to manage on her own and opted for cooperation with Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining corporations in the world. Through this alliance, Gina managed to get out of debt and significantly expand the geography of her business. Now, Hancock Prospecting is not limited to iron ore in Western Australia. The company owns deposits of ferrous and nonferrous metals, gold and diamonds, uranium, oil and coal in Australia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Last year, Georgina Rinehart became Australia's richest resident and the most successful businesswoman. Yet, she is not resting on her laurels. While in her youth she was fighting for his beloved father, and later with her stepmother, now she has to deal with her own children.

Gina Rinehart has devoted herself to the family business. Nevertheless, she has a son and three daughters. She decided to make her eldest daughter Bianca Hope her heir, and even then with reservations.

"None of my children have enough talent, knowledge, experience and responsibility to manage the company. The fast growing group HPPL must have the best leadership," she motivated her decision.

However, it has caused protests from the others, and now they are trying to deprive their mother of her right to manage the company through the court of law.

Alexander Perechny.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov