Sir Frank Lowy is best recognised as the man behind Westfield shopping centres. He is also celebrated for “resurrecting” the A-League and creating independent think tank the Lowy Institute. The plaudits fall short, however, of recognising the billionaire’s contributions to paying tax; something hardly helped by a long-standing and cosy exemption which enables the Lowy clan to have two Dark Companies on Australia’s Secret Rich List.
|Top 200 Rich List (2020)||No. of Dark Companies: |
|Political Donations since FY 1998-99|
|Rank: 9||Franley Holdings Pty Ltd||Labor Party: $110,000|
|Wealth: $8.3b||Cordera Holdings Pty Ltd||Coalition: $175,000|
|Wealth (2019): $8.56b||Independent: $0|
|YoY wealth change: -3.0%||Total: $285,000|
Sir Frank rose to prominence in property development when he opened a shopping centre in Sydney’s west in 1959 called Westfield Place Blacktown. The business was co-founded by the late John Saunders. The investment, and very savvy financial management in the ensuing years, gave rise to Westfield Development Corporation, which was floated on the ASX in September 1960, growing to become the global empire it is today.
Among the trappings of Sir Frank’s wealth includes a Gulfstream 650 private jet (pictured above) valued at more than $44 million, and his superyacht, worth upwards of $100 million.
Saunders himself owned five Dark Companies which are now run primarily by his two daughters.
There is no tax transparency data available for any of Lowy’s private companies as they do not meet the tax transparency threshold.
Lowy and his sons control two Dark Companies on the Secret Rich List. One is Franley Holdings Pty Ltd, which was established in April 1961, less than a year after he and Saunders listed Westfield on the ASX.
Franley still operates today, sheltered by the 1995 grandfathering exemption from lodging financial accounts with ASIC, as does Lowy’s second Dark Company, Cordera Holdings Pty Ltd. Both are controlled by the family’s own Franley Family Trust.
Financial accounts for a parent of the two Dark Companies show that it paid $20.3 million in management fees over 2018 and 2019 to a separate group inside the Lowy family empire.
How these fees relate to the management of Franley and Cordera is unknown. With their financial accounts protected by the grandfathering exemption, there is no way of knowing.