Belfast man's come a long way

 

Mr Danny Hill, a Belfast-born Perth businessman, who is suing Australian businessman Mr Ron Woss, who was named in the Ansbacher report, has come a very long way since leaving St Theresa's School in Belfast at 13 years of age and migrating to Australia by himself three years later.

While it is far from easy to put a label on him, he is probably best described as a "corporate litigant" providing the funds (and advice) for massive corporate legal cases in Australia and profiting when decisions go his way, as they invariably do.

One of his best known successes was against Australian insurer AMP.

In 1997 a threat of litigation from Hill forced AMP to change its share-entitlement rules, allowing the Belfast man to cash in on AMP shares that he had accumulated worth about Aus$10 million (€10.23 million).

More recently, and closer to Irish shores, he was linked to moves two years ago by an Australian investor, Mr Fred Woollard, to demutualise the 175-year-old Standard Life.

But he is a man who moves as easily in the hard-drinking circles of fair dinkum Australian miners as in the pin-striped, canapé and champagne big end of town.

In the 1960s and 1970s he became known as an eager prospector and shrewd share market speculator, betting on the oil, nickel and gold booms from Victoria and later the western mining town of Kalgoorlie.

He first learned to play the stock market while serving as a waiter in the Royal Australian Air Force. His personal wealth has been put at around Aus$400 million.

He is well known for his donations to charities and is a keen collector of art and artefacts, his prize possession being a rare display of 13th century armour used by the warriors of Mongolian conqueror Kubla Khan.

But he has other interests too as revealed in a newspaper interview some years ago.

"I guess I could be seen as having a disdain for certain elements of establishment," he told the Australian Financial Review.

"My greatest , and I often, is when you can tell an over-pompous, generally unintelligent, aristocracy cards and their keys on the table and leave.

"Every Irishman was born with a chip on his shoulder."