Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Charity work gives magnate Andrew Forrest an edge, by Gavin Lower - The Australian - 31st December 2008

His fortune has taken a hit as the global financial crisis has eaten into Australia's resources boom, but mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest still found a multi-million-dollar Christmas present for charity this year.

The head of the Fortescue Metals Group gave 30 million shares in his company, valued at $54 million on a Christmas Eve closing price of $1.80, to selected charities.

Mr Forrest has said he never aspired to amassing great wealth, and he plans to give away most of his fortune before he dies.

"I have a philosophy (about wealth) and that is that it doesn't do much for you," Mr Forrest said earlier this year.

"I know very wealthy people who have survived and become good guys despite their wealth but I also know many others around the world who haven't."

The year saw Mr Forrest, who topped the BRW rich list, determined to do what he could to combat Aboriginal disadvantage, launching a plan to create 50,000 new jobs for Aborigines in just two years.

His Australian Employment Covenant attracted support from business leaders and the federal Government, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promising to provide funds for training.

Mr Forrest also spearheaded a push to restrict the sale of takeaway alcohol, scourge of Aboriginal communities across the Kimberley region of Western Australia, through his charity, the Australian Children's Trust.

Mr Forrest is outspoken and passionate about bettering the lives of Aborigines, vowing to use his influence to eradicate chronic Aboriginal unemployment within a generation. On top of that, Mr Forrest celebrated his first shipment of iron ore to China from his Pilbara mines.

Mr Forrest's charity work and business acumen make him a worthy candidate for The Australian's Australian of the Year award.

The winner will be announced on January 24 in The Weekend Australian after final selection by a board of senior editorial staff headed by editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell.

(Credit: The Australian)

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