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Published 31 May 2012 00:08, Updated 31 May 2012 04:15
In a week when Gina Rinehart has been making headlines for her record fortune, another resources magnate has been quietly building his own billion-dollar empire.
Frank Timis has a relatively low profile in Australia. He is based in London and some of his biggest investments are in places such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Kazakhstan.
One of Timis’ companies, African Petroleum, is listed on the NSW-based Newcastle Stock Exchange.
The $2.4 billion business dominates the boards of the NSX and is responsible for about 70 per cent of the shares traded on it.
Late last week, it was reported that African Petroleum was in talks with Chinese investors who were interested in paying “several hundreds of millions” of dollars for a share of some of its projects.
Details remain sketchy but it appears that if a deal is done, Timis may be about to get a whole lot richer.
Oil and gas exploration in the west African region is on the rise and Timis’ company has the rights to some key parts of it.
Most Australian resources entrepreneurs have similar assets (for example, iron ore interests in the Pilbara), which means Timis’s oil-oriented wealth could move counter to that of his contemporaries.
Another of Timis’s African ventures, African Minerals, is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market.
Earlier this year, African Minerals got a $1.5 billion capital injection from China’s Shandong Iron and Steel. This will help
fund the development of an African iron ore mine.
Mining in Africa is risky for a number of reasons. Expect big changes to Timis’s wealth (whether up or down) over the next 12 months.