Billionaire Gina Rinehart has staked a claim to being the nation’s greatest individual taxpayer after her Hancock Prospecting business posted a bumper profit fuelled by strong iron ore prices and the ramping up of new mine operations.
Accounts lodged with the corporate regulator on Wednesday show profit for Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Group was $1.37 billion for the year to June 30 up from $1.07 billion the previous year.
A statement released alongside the accounts showed that Hancock Prospecting paid $860 million in federal and state taxes in the 2018 financial year.
“Mrs Gina Rinehart, personally and through the HPPL [Hancock Prospecting] private group, pays more tax than any other Australian,” it says, adding that Hancock was one of the nation’s largest corporate taxpayers based on official data.
Revenue from Hancock’s continuing operations jumped 26 per cent from $4.45 billion to $6.04 billion as the Roy Hill mine ramped up during the year and prices, particularly for premium iron ore, remained at solid levels.
The benchmark price for iron ore on Thursday was sitting at $US76 per tonne.
After the balance date, the group also closed its offer to buy out Atlas Iron having successfully bought 93.3 per cent of the company.
The dividend for the year fell from $767 million to $528 million as the group cut its borrowings. Total liabilities fell from $9.7 billion to $9.4 billion leaving a net asset position of $9.8 billion.
“HPPL has achieved a reduction in debt levels and pursued ongoing strategic investment opportunities while at the same time maintaining a significant level of dividend allocation to its shareholders,” the statement said.
The company statement said Hancock had also set aside $1.125 billion in dividends for potential payment to beneficiaries of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust.
Due to two of the beneficiaries breaching the deed and launching legal proceedings, the dividends have not yet been able to be paid, and cannot be paid until those claims are resolved.
Hancock Prospecting statement
Access to the funds is at the heart of a dispute with some of her children and is now subject of arbitration, the statement said.
“Due to two of the beneficiaries breaching the deed and launching legal proceedings, the dividends have not yet been able to be paid, and cannot be paid until those claims are resolved,” the statement said.
The operating position in her agriculture business was not quite as rosy despite a significant jump in revenue. In late 2016, Mrs Rinehart bought the Kidman empire, at the time, Australia’s largest private landholder.
Hancock Prospecting owns a 67 per cent stake in a company called Australian Outback Beef which in turn owns Kidman. The sale came with 100,000 square kilometres of pastoral leases – about 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land area and 2.5 per cent of the country’s agricultural land – and 185,000 head of cattle across Western Australia and the top end to South Australia.
Livestock sales almost doubled to $51 million compared with the previous year but that flowed through to the bottom line as the company wrote down the value of its livestock by amost $40 million.
That, together with a $10 million increase in expenses, drove a loss on paper of $20.9 million for the year compared with a profit of $6.3 million the previous year.
The company said the write-down was driven by a reduction in maket prices for beef and that the company recorded an underlying profit of $10.1 million