Andrew Forrest | Srivideo
Born Name: John Andrew Henry Forrest
Date of Birth: 5 July 1961
Place of Birth: Perth, Western Australia
Education: Hale School, The University of Western Australia, Christ Church Grammar School
Occupation: Non-executive chairman, Fortescue Metals Group
Net worth: 1,260 crores USD (2020) Forbes
Spouse(s): Nicola Maurice
Children: 3 (included Sophia Forrest)
Parents: Donald Forrest, Judith Street
Relatives: Mervyn Forrest (grandfather)
David Forrest (great-grandfather)
John Forrest (great-great uncle)
Alexander Forrest (great-great uncle)
John Andrew Henry Forrest AO (born 5 July 1961), nicknamed Twiggy, is an Australian businessman. He is best known as the former CEO (and current non-executive chairman) of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), but also has interests elsewhere in the mining industry and in cattle stations.
With an assessed net worth of A$6.84 billion according to the 2017 Financial Review Rich List, Forrest was ranked within the top ten richest Australians. He was the richest person in Australia in 2008. In 2013, Forrest and his wife, Nicola, were the first Australians to pledge the majority of their wealth to charity in their lifetimes. He had earlier stepped down as CEO of Fortescue Metals in 2011. Much of his philanthropy has been through either the Minderoo Foundation (focusing on education and Indigenous Australians) or the Walk Free Foundation (focusing on ending modern slavery), both of which he established. In 2014, Forrest and his wife, Nicola, pledged $65 million over 10 years through the Minderoo Foundation, establishing the Forrest Research Foundation to offer scholarships to students pursuing a PhD at a Western Australian university. Forrest has been accused of avoiding paying company tax, having revealed in 2011 that Fortescue had never paid company tax.
Forrest was born in Perth, Western Australia, the youngest of three children of Judith (née Fry) and Donald Forrest. His father, grandfather (Mervyn), and great-grandfather (David) were all managers of Minderoo Station, which David had established in 1878 with his brothers, Alexander and John. John, Alexander, David, and Mervyn were all members of parliament for periods, with John serving as Western Australia's first premier. Forrest's early years were spent at Minderoo, located in the Pilbara region south of Onslow. Minderoo was owned by the Forrest family until it was sold in 1998 by his father due to relentless drought and debt, but it was bought back by Forrest in 2009.
Forrest was educated at Onslow Primary School and through the School of the Air before moving to Perth to attend Christ Church Grammar School and then Hale School. He stuttered as a child, which is how he came to develop a relationship with Ian Black, whose Aboriginal father, Scotty, became Forrest's mentor. Forrest went on to the University of Western Australia where he majored in economics and politics.
In 1991 Forrest married Nicola Maurice, daughter of Tony Maurice who was a major figure in the Australian League of Rights white-supremacist Christian organisation. Nicola's sister, Katrina, is the wife of David Thompson who was the leader of the New Zealand League of Rights in the early 1980s and the leader of the Australian League of Rights during the 1990s. Forrest and David Thompson became friendly associates with Forrest appointing Thompson to a managerial role while he was on the board at Anaconda Nickel.
After graduating, he worked as a stockbroker at the brokerage houses Kirke Securities and Jacksons. In his early 30s, he became the founding CEO of Anaconda Nickel (now Minara Resources), which has since grown to be one of Australia's single largest mineral exporters with its Murrin Murrin Joint Venture nickel project.
In 2003, he took control of Allied Mining and Processing and renamed it Fortescue Metals Group. He is still a major shareholder of FMG, through his private company, The Metal Group. Since then, the company has grown to possess three times the tenements of its nearest rival in Western Australia's iron ore rich Pilbara region. Fortescue holds major deposits at Mount Nicholas, Christmas Creek, Cloudbreak, and Tongolo. In 2007, he took an interest and a directorship in Niagara Mining Limited, renamed Poseidon Nickel Limited, which had in 2006 acquired from WMC the Windara nickel deposits near Laverton, Western Australia.
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission took legal action against FMG and Forrest. Although an initial ruling by Justice John Gilmour in 2009 found Forrest hadn't acted in a misleading or deceptive manner, Chief Justice Patrick Keane and judges Arthur Emmett and Raymond Finkelstein of the Federal Court of Australia overturned this decision in 2011, finding that FMG and its Chairman and CEO, Andrew Forrest, had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and breached the continuous disclosure provisions in the Corporations Act, 2001 (Cth), by claiming to have binding contracts with China. The court found that a Chinese framework agreement does not amount to a binding contract, in the natural meaning of the word. If found to have breached director's duties, Forrest faced the possibility of being banned as a director of an ASIC-listed company. FMG appealed against the decision, and in October 2012, the High Court found in favour of FMG and Forrest, reversing the decision of the full bench of the Federal Court and agreeing with the original 2009 decision by Justice Gilmour.
Forrest described the Gillard Government proposed Minerals Resource Rent Tax as "economic vandalism" and a "mad dog's breakfast" that would drive up foreign resource ownership. He stated he would challenge it in the High Court as being unconstitutional, as it discriminates against states, and fails to appropriately capture big producers BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. WA premier Colin Barnett has stated the state government would back constitutional action, admitting the tax had been suggested to him as a "sovereign risk". He was highly critical of the government's expenditure of $38M on an advertising campaign, that was not approved using the usual processes, as it had to "counter mining industry 'spin' about the resources super profits tax". The treasurer Wayne Swan says the big miners will pay at least A$2 billion tax, and wrote to the head of BDO Accounting, who modelled the claims Forrest used, noting they were "utterly unrealistic" and riddled with errors. Treasury concurred that they would be unable to release the assumptions underpinning its forecasts, as they were based on confidential information provided by the big miners. Gillard struck a deal with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata to develop the MRRT. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie requested the government take Forrest's mining tax grievance to heart.
After buying back the family property, Minderoo Station in 2009 Forrest acquired the adjoining properties, Nanutarra and Uaroo Stations in 2014, increasing his total pastoral holdings in the Pilbara to 7,300 square kilometres (2,819 sq mi). In August 2015 he acquired both Brick House Station and Minilya Station for an estimated A$10 million, bringing his total pastoral holdings to over 10,000 square kilometres (3,861 sq mi).
Forrest acquired meat processing company Harvey Beef in May 2014 for A$40 million. The biggest exporter of beef in Western Australia, it was until August 2014 the only one accredited to export to China.
In 2020, Forrest acquired both Quanbun and neighbouring property, Jubilee Downs, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia for over A$30 million.
In June 2011, Allied Medical, of which Forrest owned 46%, was acquired by BioMD for over $20 million.
In 2008 Forrest appeared on the BRW Rich 200 list, with a net worth of A$9.41 billion. In subsequent years, his wealth has varied significantly as a result of variances in Australian resources sector prices. In 2016, according to Forbes Asia, Forrest's wealth was assessed at US$1.24, making him the 22nd wealthiest Australian. In 2017 his net worth, according to the Financial Review Rich List, was A$6.84 billion, ranking him as the sixth wealthiest Australian.
Forrest and his wife, Nicola, made The Giving Pledge in 2013, stating:
"We hope to help empower individuals and families currently suffering the despair of poverty, slavery and the lack of opportunity for themselves and their children. We feel that if we all do whatever we can with whatever we have, large or small, then each of us will help make our world a more equitable and positive environment for others to thrive in."
— Andrew and Nicola Forrest, February 2013
After stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of FMG to reflect that he had been spending more than 50% of his time on indigenous philanthropy, and to hand leadership reins to Nev Power, the former head of engineering company Thiess, he became Ambassador of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Encouraged by the philanthropic work of the Rockefeller Group, Warren Buffett, and Melinda and Bill Gates, Forrest founded the Australian Children's Trust with his wife Nicola in 2001. He also started the GenerationOne project, which was founded as a result of his hero and first mentor outside his father, Scotty Black. Forrest obtained assistance from James Packer and Kerry Stokes, who each donated $2 million, along with the support of their respective media stations, Channel 9 and Channel 7. The organisation works with the Australian Children's Trust to help create sustainable solutions on addressing social disadvantage.
With Kevin Rudd, Forrest launched the Australian Employment Covenant, which campaigns to have businesses hire indigenous Australians, as they could "add value" to Australian businesses because they were "professional and reliable and wonderful" and that there is no reason for indigenous disparity. He stated that he was dedicating time to the Covenant not because he was a "great guy", but that it was "good business". GenerationOne ran a series of television advertisements privately funded by Forrest, Packer and Stokes. Between 2008 and 2011, he obtained 253 business signatories to his covenant. With then Prime Minister Rudd, Forrest planned to employ 50,000 Aboriginal people. As the two-year deadline approached, estimates put the number of Indigenous job placements under the scheme at around 2,800, clearly well short of the original goal.
Forrest has long opposed welfare dependency for indigenous Australians. As a part of this opposition, he recounted stories of young Aboriginal girls in the Pilbara offering men sex for cigarettes, which caused five indigenous women from the region to collectively lodge a complaint with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission that the comment was racist and vilified the community.
Forrest has also been publicly accused of engaging in questionable methods of land acquisition, and has also had accusations leveled at his company for failing indigenous trainees at FMG's vocational training centre in Port Hedland.
In 2013, Forrest was chosen to lead a review into Indigenous employment and training programs, which was to report to the Australian government. The review was delivered on 1 August 2014, with 27 recommendations, one of which was the healthy welfare card.
As of September 2007, Forrest had injected A$90 million into his children's charity. Philanthropic activity has included gifts to his alma mater, Hale School; participation in the St Vincent de Paul Society CEO sleepouts; and a gift from the proceeds of the sale of 5,000 tonnes (5,500 short tons) of iron ore to the Chinese earthquake relief effort. In October 2013 it was announced that Forrest was to donate A$65 million towards higher education in Western Australia. At the time the sum was believed to be the highest philanthropic donation in Australia, with most going toward funding scholarships. The Minderoo Foundation, Forrest's private foundation, was renamed as the Minderoo Group is to be expanded to include higher education contributions. The foundation has given A$270 million through the foundation since 2001. In 2017 Forrest donated $400 million to medical research and social causes, and in 2019 donated a further $655 million to expand the existing work of the Minderoo Foundation in areas including cancer research, early childhood development, ocean health, and eliminating modern slavery, the largest ever living donation by any Australian philanthropist.
Speaking about human trafficking
Forrest's daughter, Grace volunteered at an orphanage in Nepal and discovered the children she had looked after had been trafficked to be sex slaves in the Middle East. This distressed Grace and motivated her father to act. Grace Forrest when 21 said at an interfaith meeting held at the Vatican, "I feel like a puppet for hundreds of thousands of girls who are voiceless – if I can stand for them, that is what I'm here to do."
Walk Free Foundation
Forrest established the Walk Free Foundation in 2010 to fight modern slavery. In 2013 the organisation launched the Global Slavery Index ranking 162 countries "based on a combined measure of three factors: estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage, and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country". The Index estimates there are 29 million slaves worldwide, roughly half in India and Pakistan.
In January 2014, Forrest announced a deal with Pakistan to do away with more than two million slaves in return for cheap coal.
Global Freedom Network
Forrest founded the Global Freedom Network which the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar will lead. The Global Freedom Network will work together to stop all religious faiths from using organisations involved with slavery in their supply chain.
When I heard the news [that all parties had agreed to the venture] I have to admit I became emotional. This is going to change everything. This is set up like a high-achieving, measurement-driven, totally target-oriented company, it's like a hard-edged business. We are out to defeat slavery, we are not out to feel good. This is our mission. You see the complete hopelessness in the eyes [of enslaved people]. It’s like I’m stuck, I will never get help, I am dirt. Then you know that you can’t rest until you free them.
— Andrew Forrest, interviewed in 2014
Andrew and Grace Forrest took part in a meeting held in 2014 in the Vatican. There was a Joint Religious Leaders Declaration Against Modern Slavery which was signed by Pope Francis, Mata Amritanandamayi, Justin Welby, Thích Nhất Hạnh, K. Sri Dhammananda, David Rosen, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Abraham Skorka, Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi, Basheer Hussain al-Najafi, and Omar Abboud: religious leaders representing forms of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, urged consumers to demand more information about whether forced labour was involved in goods they bought.
Forrest is a Christian and is married with three children, Grace, Sophia and Sydney.
His close associates include Minister Peter Collier, former Prime Minister John Howard, billionaire James Packer, former Premier Brian Burke, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman, former athlete Herb Elliot, billionaire media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes, and billionaire businessman Lindsay Fox.
He is an adjunct professor at the Chinese Southern University, a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, has an Australian Centenary Medal and Australian Sports Medal, and was awarded the 2017 Western Australian of the Year Award, and the 2018 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Alumni Social Impact Award. He a former director of Australia's Export Finance and Insurance Corporation and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, and former chairman of Athletics Australia. Forrest has previously addressed the Queensland University of Technology, and Christians in the Marketplace.
In 2017 Forrest was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the mining sector, to the development of employment and business opportunities, as a supporter of sustainable foreign investment, and to philanthropy.
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