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Rinehart Doubles Fortune as Asia Pacific’s Richest, Forbes Says

Hancock Prospecting Pty. Chairwoman Gina Rinehart
Gina Rinehart, chairwoman of Hancock Prospecting Pty. Photographer: Ron D'Raine/Bloomberg

Gina Rinehart, the Australian mining heiress and media investor, doubled her fortune to $18 billion from last year to become the richest woman in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Forbes magazine.

Rinehart’s wealth jumped as Korean steelmaker Posco bought a stake in her Roy Hill iron-ore project, Forbes said on its website today. The 57-year-old may become the world’s richest woman, surpassing the $24.5 billion amassed by Christy Walton, of the family that controls Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Forbes said.

Rinehart’s value soared as Asian demand for coal and iron ore drove up the value of assets across two Australian states. She bought 10 percent of Ten Network Holdings Ltd., the nation’s third-ranked commercial television network, in 2010. The billionaire increased her stake this week in Fairfax Media Ltd., Australia’s second-largest newspaper publisher, to 12 percent, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Last month, South Korean steelmaker Posco agreed to pay 1.78 trillion won ($1.6 billion) to raise its stake in the Roy Hill mine in Western Australia to 15 percent from 3.8 percent.

In Australia, Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive officer of Glencore International Plc, ranks as the country’s second-richest person with $7.2 billion after the commodities trading company listed last year, Forbes said. Andrew Forrest, chairman and founder of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., is third with $5.3 billion.

Gerry Harvey, founder and chairman of Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd., dropped off Australia’s billionaire’s list after a stock-price plunge left him with $900 million, Forbes said.

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