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Australian toymaker became a billionaire

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A 68-year-old Australian toymaker, who was born in a refugee camp, has joined the Forbes billionaires list thanks to the Shopkins toys he turned into a global phenomenon. 

Manny Stul, who was brought to Australia after the second world war by his Polish parents, made his fortune after taking control of a struggling Moose toys nearly two decades ago.

More than 65m Shopkins have been sold worldwide and the company is a rare Australian success story in the globalised toy market with the products shipped to more than 80 countries. Stul made his debut on the Forbes list with an estimated fortune of $US1.4bn, putting him 1,467 spots below the Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who claimed the title of the world’s richest person for the fourth consecutive year with $US86bn to his name. In total 33 Australians were on the 2017 list, with the mining magnate Gina Rinehart in top spot with $US15bn followed by the property magnate Harry Triguboff and the iron ore miner Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest. 

 

Stul made his debut on the Forbes list with 194 other newcomers, more than 60% of whom hailed from Asia or the Asia Pacific.

Overall, the total number of billionaires jumped by 233 to a record 2,043 while their combined fortunes swelled by nearly a fifth to a record $US7.67tn.

out of the 227 women on the list, Rinehart had the best year after her fortune nearly doubled, pushing her up the rankings to 69th spot from 127th a year ago.

Just four other women were among the 33 Australians on the list, including sisters Fiona Geminder and Heloise Waislitz who hold large stakes in their family’s packaging business, Visy.

More than 65m Shopkins have been sold worldwide and the company is a rare Australian success story in the globalised toy market with the products shipped to more than 80 countries. ‘’

The media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who wasn’t included in the list of Australian billionaires because he holds US citizenship, took out 90th spot on the overall list with a $US13.1 billion fortune, up by about $US2bn on a year ago.

The casino tycoon James Packer had about half a billion dollars sliced off his fortune while Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar – the 37-year-old co-founders of software group Atlassian – were the youngest Australians on the list. Nearly a fifth of the 33 Australian billionaires were aged over 70, including Westfield founder Frank Lowy and Linfox boss Lindsay Fox.

Oxfam Australia said the record number of billionaires on the list highlighted how inequality was now on a scale never seen before, with the nation’s two richest people having the same wealth as the poorest 20% of Australians. “That a record number of new billionaires – an additional 233 according to Forbes’ annual list – were created in the past year alone is part of an economic model that leads to more unequal societies that trap millions of people in poverty,” Oxfam Australia’s head of public policy and advocacy, Rachel Ball, said.

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