Personal trainer Michelle Bridges has exercised her way to a $53 million fortune and a place alongside Oscar-winning actresses, corporate high-flyers and a “mysterious” telco founder as Australia’s richest self-made women.
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s $20 billion fortune may make her Australia’s richest person but it’s the little-known Vicky Teoh who is queen among women who have created their own personal fortunes.
Ms Teoh, who co-founded telco and internet provider TPG with her husband, has a tight grip on the top spot in the BRW Rich Women list, with a $938 million wealth.
BRW deputy editor Caitlin Fitzsimmons described Ms Teoh as one of the more mysterious figures in Australian business, as the Teohs are a fiercely private family.
Super Cheap Auto co-founder Hazel Rowe made her debut at third place on the 2015 list, with a $376 million wealth made primarily through the Super Retail Group.
Ms Bridges pushed her way into the top 30 (at 29th spot) thanks to the international expansion of her fitness empire.
Actress Nicole Kidman is worth $331 million and Kylie Minogue, Elle Macpherson and Cate Blanchett are also on the list, along with four women such as former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly, who made their wealth from high-powered corporate jobs.
Ms Fitzsimmons said the majority (23 of the 30) who made their fortunes by founding and building their own businesses.
The combined wealth on the list, published on Sunday, has risen to $5.4 billion, up from $4.5 billion.
Ms Fitzsimmons said that was thanks largely to the value of share and property, although the wealth of Therese Rein, the wife of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, jumped to $192 million (from $135 million) thanks to the sale of her multinational job seeker business Ingeus.
Ms Rinehart does not appear on the rich women list for the same reason James Packer did not feature on the BRW Young Rich list: the wealth has to be self-made and not thanks to a significant inheritance.
“We certainly don’t mean to disparage Gina Rinehart as a businesswoman. She’s been phenomenally successful but she did start with a pretty sweet inheritance in the first place,” Ms Fitzsimmons said.
AUSTRALIA’S RICHEST SELF-MADE WOMEN:
1. Vicky Teoh (TPG) $938m
2. Charlotte Vidor (Toga Hotels Group) $385m
3. Hazel Rowe (Super Retail Group) $376m
4. Patricia Ilhan (investment) $366m
5. Rhonda Wyllie (funds management) $358m
6. Nicole Kidman (entertainment) $331m
7. Jude Turner (property development) $316m
8. Jamuna Gurung (Melbourne Institute of Technology) $264m
9. Imelda Roche (Nutrimetics) $236m
10. Penelope Maclagan (Computershare) $198m
11. Therese Rein (entrepreneur) $192m
18. Kylie Minogue (entertainment) $79m
22. Elle Macpherson (entertainment) $71m
25. Cate Blanchett (entertainment) $63m
29. Michelle Bridges (fitness) $53m
* Vicky Teoh tops three-year-old list for third time
* Her wealth up $170m
* Combined wealth $5.4b, up from $4.5b
* Average wealth $181m, up from $150m
* More increased wealth than decreased
* Lowest cut-off $51m, from $35m
* Youngest 41yo Carman’s Fine Foods founder Carolyn Creswell
* Oldest 80yo Imelda Roche (Nutrimetics)
* Biggest wealth source: retail, food, fashion, entertainment
Source: 2015 BRW Rich Women list.