People say it’s hard being at the top but one would sincerely doubt it would be anything but easy being on the BRW’s annual rich list. Seven Greek Australians made the list for 2012, and have gained their wealth in everything from shopping centres; to property investment, to the pearling industry.
Topping the Greeks on the BRW rich list is Con Makris and family with a fortune of $910 million, a drop from last year when they made the list with $1.07 billion. The Makris family have made their fortune in the property industry in Adelaide. Spiros Alysandratos made a return this year on the rich list. He made his wealth from his ownership of the Consolidated Travel Group. Gina Rinehart topped the BRW list having a worth of $29.17 billion.
Con Makris and family
$910 million, last year $1.07 billion Property, Adelaide 65, married twice, four children
South Australian property magnate Con Markis is a man with a lot on his plate. His Makris group portfolio spans commercial and retail assets in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, including Sydney’s Bonnyrigg Plaza, Adelaide’s City Cross Shopping Centyre, and Victoria’s Endeavour Hills Shopping Center. And it’s a portfolio that’s set to expand. He says work will finally start on the $ 150 million redevelopment of the long-vacant Le Corny site in central Adelaide and the $250 million Encounter Bay shopping centre at Victor Harbor. Makris emigrated from Greece in the early 1960s and worked in a foundry before starting a grocery business and chain of takeaway chicken shops. He bought his first shopping centre in Adelaide in the 1980s. Sons Ross and Jason are involved in the day-to-day running of the group, leaving their father more time to cruise the Greek islands on his super yacht, Ouzo Palace. But even on holiday, work is never far from the patriarch’s mind. “I put cameras in my shopping centres, which I check when I’m overseas. If I see something’s a problem, I call them straight away.”
Last year: $554 million
64. Divorced, two children.
Kerry Harmanis has come a long way from selling seafood at Fremantle’s Leighton Beach in the late 70s, to fund his prospecting forays in Western Australia’s goldfields. A lawyer by training, Harmanis built a gold tailings processing business in the early ’80s and listed his companies, Sir Samuel Mines and Jubilee Gold Mines, in 1987. Harmanis merged the companies into a new entity, Jubilee Mines, in 1991. The company went through rocky times – at one stage, he invested $900,000 of his own savings to keep the company afloat -but in 1996 the gamble paid off after he discovered the rich Cosmos nickel deposit in central Western Australia. When Jubilee’s mining operation was taken over by Anglo-Swiss mining giant Xstrata in 2007, Harmanis pocketed almost $500 million. Since the sale, he has more time to pursue interests not normally associated with mining barons: meditation, mandolin playing and tai chi. Harmanis is a strong supporter of the Save the Kimberley foundation, which is fighting large-scale industrial development of the area’s pristine environment, and other philanthropic causes including youth suicide prevention programs.
Last year: $487 million
Property investment, Sydney.
76. married, two children.
Theo Karedis built his fortune by setting up the Theo’s Liquor chain of liquor stores. In December 2002, he sold the business to the then Coles Myer for about $175 million in cash and shares. Since then the supermarket giant Coles has made substantial gains in liquor and Karedis and his son Greg have been buying real estate. The businesses include the Karedis Investment Group. There’s also Arkadia, headed by Greg, with a retail portfolio worth more than $400 million. Its retail centres include a mix of neighbourhood and bulky goods centres on the eastern seaboard, In February, the family bought The Zone Maroochydore, for about $19 million, but with retail property outside the Sydney CBD declining in value, so, too, is their wealth.
Last year: $326 million
65. married, two children.
Earlier this year, George Koukis stepped away from Temenos, the banking software company he created in the late 1980s with the backing of a Hong Kong investment bank, by buying the technology division of a moribund company and refocusing it to develop core banking systems. He bought the business for a little under $1 million. It came with 25 employees, some interesting software but no customers. By the time Koukis stepped down as chairman of Temenos, it had become one of the leading banking software suppliers. By February 2011, the company had more than 60 offices worldwide, serving more than 1500 customers in 125 countries and a marked capitalisation of $3.2 billion. Over the past 12 months he’s followed his resignation with a gradual sell-off of his shares, netting a cool $315 million in cash. That’s not bad for an entrepreneur who began his career by losing his life savings in the 1987 sharemarket crash.
Services, travel, Melbourne
73. married, three children.
Spiros Alysandratos is back after debuting on the Rich 200 in 2008 and departing a year later. His wealth is mainly derived from his ownership of Consolidated Travel Group, a travel wholesaler with revenue of more than $800 million in 2011. Consolidated provides services and technology to the travel industry. About 15 per cent of revenue comes from 12 airline clients. Alysandratos, a Greek immigrant, arrived in Australia in 1959. He started Consolidated in 1967 after having trouble finding cheap air fares to Europe. His other investments include a sizeable share portfolio. He has a stake in Jetset Travelworld and properties in Melbourne. His son Dennis joined Consolidated in 1996.
Last year: $540 million
Rural pearling, investment Darwin, Sydney, Broome
The Paspaley name is synonymous with pearls but the family’s business interests have been widened to range from fishing, retail, aviation and farming to hotels, resorts, ship repairs, property development and investment. Paspaley Pearls was founded by Nick Paspalis, who migrated with his family from Greece in 1919. He started work on a pearllugger at the age of 14, diving for mother of pearl along the West Australian coast before moving (and changing his surname to Paspaley) to Darwin after World War II. He pioneered the culturing of South Sea pearls in the 1960s, Today, Paspaley Reading’s 20 farms account for 70 per cent of Australia’s pearl production. Since the patriarch’s death in 1984, the family empire has been run by his son, Nicholas Jnr, and eldest daughter Roslynne Bracher, while youngest daughter Marilynne has ventured out on her own with the luxury Pinctada Hotels and Resorts group, A clearer understanding of the asset base of the family’s pearling business accounts for this year’s higher valuation.
Last year: $459 million
Most of the Stamoulis family’s wealth was built on bricks and mortar but its origins were in aerated drinks. Patriarch Spiros Stamoulis, who died in 2007, emigrated from Greece at 12 and made his first fortune building the Gold Medal soft drink empire. The proceeds from Gold Medal’s sale to Cadbury Schweppes in 2004 were invested in property and other ventures. The Stamoulis Properly Group, run by Spiros’s son Harry, has properties in Melbourne, regional Victoria and Greece. The family owns a Greek-language radio station and newspaper in Melbourne and financed the city’s Hellenic Museum. Harry is building a $20 million mansion in Toorak.