|Is||Businessperson, Entrepreneur, Real estate developer|
|Birth||3 March 1933, Dalian, People’s Republic of China|
Harry Oskar Triguboff AO (born 3 March 1933 in China, Liaoning), is a Chinese-born Australian billionaire real estate developer, and one of Australia’s richest people. He is the founder and managing director of Meriton and is known as “high-rise Harry”. In May 2016, he was declared the wealthiest person in Australia by net worth in the annual Financial Review Rich 200 list, yet held the mantle for only one year.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
The son of a builder, Triguboff was born in Dalian (Darien at the time), Liaoning, Republic of China on 3 March 1933, the son of Russian Jews (Moshe and Frida) who fled to northeastern China after the rise of Lenin. He spent his early childhood in the Jewish community in Tianjin and in 1947, moved to Australia to be educated at the Scots College in Sydney. He later graduated with a degree in textiles from the University of Leeds in England, before working in textile businesses in Israel and South Africa.
He returned to Australia in 1960 and became an Australian citizen in 1961. He did a variety of odd jobs, including running a taxi fleet and owning a milk round in Chatswood. He tried selling real estate and worked as an assistant to a lecturer at university but wasn’t so successful at either. He then bought some land in Roseville and hired a builder to begin building his house. The builder repeatedly let him down, so Triguboff threw him out and finished the job himself, learning from his mistakes.
From the experience gained in the initial development, Triguboff bought his second block of land in 1963, this time in Smith Street, Tempe, and began building a block of eight units with a partner. He made a profit, which led to a second development in 1968 in Gladesville. At Meriton Street, Triguboff built a block of 18 units which provided the name of the company he registered in developers.
Triguboff is the managing director of Meriton Apartments Pty Ltd. As of 2015 Meriton had built more than 55,000 residential townhouses and apartments since its creation in 1963, making it Australia’s biggest residential property developer. In 2010, Meriton was said to develop an average of 1,000 apartments per year. As of 2015, the average exceeds 3,000 per annum. In particular, Triguboff has concentrated on the Gold Coast and Brisbane in Queensland, and Sydney’s central business district, building more apartments than any other Australian residential developer. He is a proponent that the population of Australia should grow to reach 100 million.
In 2004, Meriton completed the construction of World Tower, Sydney’s tallest residential apartment building. During 2012, Meriton and the owners’ corporation became embroiled in a long running court dispute over major building defects and alleged breaches of their contract, with maintenance issues worth more than A$1 million. Part of the issue related to Meriton, the original builder, being locked out of the development. By 2015, He had built approximately 55,000 residential townhouses and apartments.
The company has been a sponsor of the Wests Tigers (and their predecessor, Balmain Tigers) since 1998. Triguboff committed Meriton throughout the club’s merger period of 2000 and into 2015.
Triguboff donates heavily to political parties and uses his influence to seek policy changes. In August 2010, he proposed that the federal government should insist on Reserve Bank interest rates being dropped to improve housing affordability.
According to the 2017 Financial Review Rich List, Triguboff’s personal net wealth was estimated at A$11.40 billion, an increase of $0.78 billion on the previous year. Meanwhile, Forbes Asia estimated his wealth in 2015 at US$5.6 billion. In 2015, Forbes Asia magazine’s annual billionaires list assessed Triguboff as the world’s 262nd wealthiest billionaire. His earnings result from leasing most of his developments to short and long term tenants, with benefits from capital appreciation.
Triguboff participated in a 2010 Business Review Weekly magazine contest to “Win a Week With a Billionaire”. Three young finalists were flown to Sydney where they spent a week at Meriton being mentored by Triguboff.
Triguboff was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia on 26 January 1990 “for service to building and construction and for philanthropy” and an Officer of the Order on 7 June 1999 “for service to the community as a philanthropist, and to the residential construction industry”.
Triguboff was the first person to win Australia’s Property Person of the Year award twice; he first won the award in 2003 and then again in 2009.
Triguboff, via The Harry Triguboff Foundation, funded a project at the Shorashim Center to assist immigrant applicants to Israel in proving their Jewishness.
Triguboff is Jewish. He has been married twice and has two daughters from his first marriage, Orna and Sharon. He is married to his second wife, Rhonda. He lives in Sydney and owns a collection of cars.