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Maltese property developer tops Australia's young rich-list

Shaun Bonett... Richer than Kylie and Nicole!

Shaun Bonett... Richer than Kylie and Nicole!

Maltese property developer Shaun Bonett has topped Australia's young rich list, with a fortune of Lm80 million, surpassing superstars like Kylie Minogue, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman.

Thirty-six-year-old Mr Bonett's wealth increased by $80 million (Lm21 million) in the 2007 financial year, lifting him to the top from number three on the BRW Young Rich List in 2006.

"Being named as BRW number one business person is an incredibly humbling experience. There are so many talented and smart young people in Australia and it is a real honour to be picked among them," Mr Bonett told The Times yesterday.

The number two ranking on the list went to actress Nicole Kidman, who is now worth $237 million (Lm67million), while singer Kylie Minogue is ranked fourth with $66 million (Lm18 million) in the bank. One of the world's finest actresses - Cate Blanchett - is worth $41 million (Lm11 million).

To make it to the top 100 list, members must not be over 40 and have acquired wealth without any inheritance.

Mr Bonett's parents migrated to Australia in the midst of the doctors' lockout back in 1978. His success is self-made. By the age of 20 he had graduated as a lawyer from the University of Adelaide, a profession he practised for five years. He was subsequently lured into a business venture with a childhood friend, who had a background in the property business.

Mr Bonett, who recently met with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi during his Australia tour, joined the rich list last year through his commercial property development company Precision Group.

Contacted yesterday, the self-proclaimed workaholic said he is now focusing on consolidating and developing his portfolio of shopping centres, office building and hospitality assets.

"There is a lot of value to be unlocked in my assets through refurbishments and redevelopments," he says.

In the meantime, he is also diversifying his business after launching a finance business, which lends to investors and developers who need more money than afforded by the banks.

Of particular interest are the IT and biotech sectors, in which Mr Bonett has invested, and some of his companies are already proving to be very successful.

Asked whether the perception that millionaires don't spend their money was fact or fiction, Mr Bonett replies: "Everyone spends one's money in some way. I believe it's very important for anyone, in their own way, to give something back to the community they operate in."

In the last two years Mr Bonett has set up his own charitable foundation - the Heartfelt Foundation - which helps charities under stress.

With millions of dollars flowing out of his pockets, does Mr Bonett still manage to carry out the odd day-to-day jobs, like going out shopping?

He answers: "Absolutely. Keeping grounded is essential and I love taking my wife Vanessa and our child Eve out to the shops... and working in the garden on weekends too".

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