Fortescue’s Forrest attacks ‘inheritance magnates’

Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest attacked Gina Rinehart and other 'inheritance magnates' in the company's latest report.

In his chairman's statement, Forrest has levelled a thinly veiled attack on Gina Rinehart, stating that "unlike some mining companies, we didn't inherit the assets from which Fortescue was built".

He went on to say that "we didn't and sell them before we developed them. Fortescue was built from the ground up based on grass roots exploration".

The enmity between Forrest and Rinehart is well known, as is her aversion to being called a 'mining heiress'.

The two have clashed before over the proposed route of her Roy Hill mine's rail line, which had to be diverted to align with Fortescue's operational boundaries, according to The West.

This is not the first time Forrest has voiced these comments.

Speaking at the National Press Club in May, he stated that "there was no buying and selling of assets before you had even developed them; no inherited wealth".

However Rinehart has previously rejected this view of her, considering herself a self made businesswoman who turned her company around after her father's death twenty years ago, the BBC reports.

"It's a bit strange to say 'inherit' when it is public knowledge that Roy Hill was acquired by our company after [Lang] Hancock's passing and it is also public knowledge that there was no clear title left in relation to Hope Downs given that both a non-shareholder (over many years) and more recently the Wright family interests, have also contested ownership (the latter being for some, not all, the tenements)," Roy Hill CFO Jay Newby told The West.

"The Roy Hill acquisition documents are clearly on the Roy Hill and HPPL websites. Perhaps Mr Forrest doesn't appreciate the vast majority of Mr Hancock's interests had been sold or otherwise dealt with prior to Mrs Rinehart's chairmanship so that the ownership was no longer in the Hancock Prospecting group by that time."

However according to a Fortescue spokesperson, Forrest's comments have been misinterpreted.

"Mr Forrest, as he has previously stated numerous times, is making the accurate observation that the iron ore industry in Australia has developed over many decades and generations," she said.

"In contrast, Fortescue was built from the ground up, based on grassroots exploration, in less than a decade. To interpret (Mr Forrest's chairman's address) any other way is simply inaccurate."

In the remainder of the company’s report, Forrest goes on to address the current downturn in iron ore, and the way forward for the company as the price stabilises.

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