The Richest Men in Chile

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Despite still being a largely male-dominated economy, Chile has witnessed the rise of a woman at the top of its rich list. The wealthiest individual in Chile is mining tycoon Iris Fontbana with a net worth of $18.4 billion USD who owes her top ranking to the vast holdings founded by her deceased husband Croatian born Andrónico Luksic. Nevertheless, other names on the list of richest people in Chile are male and here are the most prominent among them.

Eliodoro and Bernado Matte Larrain

The Matte family is the second richest in Chile and includes three siblings, Eliodoro, Patricia and Bernardo Matte Larrain. The fortunes of the wealthy and powerful Matte family are estimated to be worth $10.2 billion USD which even ranks them 86th on the Forbes 2012 Billionaire list1. Among the siblings, Eliodoro owns the family-run Empresas CMPC and is primarily responsible for transforming the tiny CMPC into a global force, after taking over the company from his father Eliodoro Matte Ossa in 1976.

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While Eliodoro senior tried unsuccessfully to nationalise the holding during Allende's government, his oldest son has been able to accelerate growth by introducing practices of international expansion in South America and Mexico. In 2011 sales exceeded more than $4.2B USD. The siblings have also made their fortune by participating in other companies, coming from strategic sectors, such us mining, banking and construction.

Horst Paulmann

Founder of the retail conglomerate, Horst Paulmann is the third richest Chilean; apart from enjoying a net worth of $9.3 billion USD, he is also ranked in the 98th position on the 2012 Forbes world billionaire list. Born in Germany in 1936 and holding dual Chilean nationality, Horst Paulmann has built up a large fortune in the retail sector in Chile and throughout Latin America. Under the Cencosud consortium, the Paulmann family dominates the Chilean retail market through supermarket brands like Paris, Jumbo, Santa Isabel and Easy. However Paulmann’s rise to the top has not been without controversy – ranging from allegations of fraud after federal inspectors investigated Cencosud to suggestions of ancestral ties with Nazi authorities, according to a recent article from Chilean newspaper El Mostrador.

Sebastian Piñera

The Chilean President Sebastian Piñera is one of the richest men of the country, with a personal fortune of $2.4B USD. Pinera is widely known for introducing credit cards into the country by founding credit card giant Bancard, from which he made the majority of his wealth, along with investment stakes in the nation's largest airline LAN Chile. After becoming President of Chile, Pinera kept his campaign promise to give up his holdings – thus 26% stake in Chilean airline LAN for $1.5 billion, sold the TV channel Chilevision to Time Warner for a reported $150 million, and sold his share of popular soccer team Blanco & Negro. However despite these measures Pinera’s approval rating have dropped to a reported 23%, making him one of the most unpopular of all Chilean Presidents since Pinochet2.

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Roberto Angelini Rossi

With a net worth of $1.2B, Roberto Angelini Rossi is the next name to figure on the list of Chilean’s richest men. Rossi owes his fortune to inheritance from uncle billionaire Anacleto Angelini Fabri, of Italian descent, who at the time of his death in 2007 was the richest man in Chile. The Angelini fortune was originally made in the last century in northern Chile, in fishing and fishmeal production. Consolidation took place when the energy company Copec was acquired and the forestry business Arauco formed. The Angelini Group went on to make profitable investments in fishing, mining, copper, timber and natural gas, through publicly traded companies Antarchile, Siemel, and Eperva--the latter is the industrial fishing conglomerate Anacleto started in 1956.

Currently Angelini Rossi heads the family business and holds the largest share of the family's holdings, Antarchile, whose investments lie chiefly in forestry (60.1%), fuel (28.5%) and fishing (3.8%). Rossi has continued with his predecessor’s expansionist visions, with Angelini Group enlarging its holdings in Chile, including construction of a plant in Arica in the north for producing Omega oils from anchovies. In keeping with the expansion policy, Rossi has also inked a deal with Scandinavian paper maker Stora Ensa to build a eucalyptus pulp mill in Uruguay. At the end of 2010, the Angelini Group purchased a 59% stake in Proenergia, a Colombian gas and fuel distributor, for $45 million. This year in 2012 Angelini Group announced plans to buy nearly 10% more of Proenergia. Despite being one of the most powerful business families in Chile, the Angelinis are exceedingly private, typically keeping out of the media glare.

References:

  1. The World's Billionaires – Chile
     
  2. Forbes - Sebastian Pinera