Kerry Stokes

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Kerry Stokes

John Patrick Alford

(1940-09-13) 13 September 1940 (age 83)
Years active1960–present
Board member of
  • Dorothy Ebert
    (m. 1960; div. 1970)
  • Denise Stokes
    (div. 1988)
  • (m. 1992; div. 1995)
  • Christine Simpson
    (m. 1996)

Kerry Matthew Stokes AC (born John Patrick Alford on 13 September 1940) is an Australian businessman. He holds business interests in industries including electronic and print media, property, mining and construction equipment. He is most widely known as the chairman of the Seven Network, one of the largest broadcasting corporations in Australia.

Appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1995,[3] Stokes was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2006 in recognition of his contributions to Australian business, strategic leadership, promotion of corporate social responsibility, to the arts through philanthropy, and to the community, most especially those services supporting young people.[4]

As of May 2023, Stokes was the twelfth-richest Australian by net worth, according to the 2023 Financial Review Rich List.[5]

Early life[edit]

John Patrick Alford was born in Melbourne, Victoria. His unmarried mother was Marie Jean Alford. Stokes was adopted by Matthew and Irene Stokes and grew up in Camp Pell, a slum housing area.[1] He later dropped out of school at age 14. In June 2000, Stokes told the ABC,[6] "My background was very difficult, very hard and I wouldn't wish that on anybody. I had lots of different occupations and obviously lots of different experiences. I had some time on the street, and sometimes, work was very difficult. Australia, in that period of time, wasn't a place where you could actually easily go and get a job, it was difficult, and we went where there was work available".


Stokes' first reported job was to install television antennas in Perth, followed by a sustained period in property development throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He also developed a range of shopping centres in Perth and regional Western Australia with partners Jack Bendat and Kevin Merifield.

His private company, Australian Capital Equity, is the holding company for Stokes' interests in a diverse range of Australian and international businesses and ventures covering property, construction, mining and petroleum exploration.

He invested in the Caterpillar franchise in Western Australia (Wigmores Ltd) in 1988, and the company subsequently called WesTrac has equipment dealer franchises in Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, with the total number of employees close to 4,000 people, as well as 500 apprentices in Australia.

In 2007, Stokes' National Hire Group (over 50% owned by WesTrac) formed a joint venture with The Carlyle Group to acquire the equipment hire group Coates Hire.

Stokes has always had a keen interest in the pastoral industry and acquired the 4,047-square-kilometre (1,563 sq mi) Napier Downs station in the Kimberley, stocked with 20,000 head of Red Brahman cattle, from Peter Leutenegger in 2015[7] for an estimated A$23 million to A$40 million.[8]

As of 2017, Seven Group Holdings increased the size of Stokes' privately owned cattle empire in Western Australia to more than 1 million ha (2.47 million acres).[9]

Media interests[edit]

Stokes's commercial interests in the media sector commenced in Western Australia, with the development of the Golden West Network, a regional television network based in Bunbury in partnership with Jack Bendat. In 1979 Stokes acquired Canberra's local TV station Seven Canberra, subsequently acquiring Seven Adelaide from Rupert Murdoch and won the third commercial station licence in Perth, as well as acquiring radio stations in Victoria (including 3DB (Melbourne) and 3GL (Geelong), South Australia and Western Australia, through a vehicle called BDC. These assets were sold to Frank Lowy in 1987.

In 1996 Stokes acquired a strategic 19 per cent stake in the Seven Network (now[when?] approximately 43 per cent), a network of commercial free-to-air television stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, as well as regional Queensland and Perth. This was supported by Alan Jackson, who Stokes appointed CEO of the company for a number of years.[10] The platform, as well as a 33 per cent stake in Sky News Australia, reaches 98 per cent of Australians. Seven has also established a major magazine publishing business, Pacific Magazines, which accounts for more than 20 per cent of all magazines sold in Australia.

Also under Stokes's leadership, Seven has established a leading online venture, Yahoo!7, combining Yahoo!'s search and online capabilities with Seven's content and cross marketing. The successful joint venture is driving a range of online and IPTV businesses. Seven built and acquired several broadband businesses, including wireless broadband group Unwired (sold to Optus, and subsequently defunct), VOIP operator Engin (subsequently an independent business) and was the Australian licensee for TiVo,[11] launched in 2008 and abandoned in 2014.[12]

In 2006, Seven Network and KKR[13] created a new joint venture, Seven Media Group, a multi-faceted media company combining a presence in broadcast television, magazine and online applications. West Australian Newspapers Ltd. merged with Seven to form Seven West Media in 2011.

Stokes's private company, in conjunction with Shanghai People's Press, is no longer running a business after five years in Shanghai. and a second joint venture in mobile television with the Oriental Pearl Group in Shanghai. Seven held the Australian broadcasting rights for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and provided the broadcast feeds for the swimming and diving events for the rest of the world. The International Olympic Committee awarded Seven the gold medal for its TV coverage of the Athens Summer Olympics in 2004.

Personal life[edit]

Stokes has been married four times. His first marriage was to Dorothy "Dot" Ebert, who is the mother of two of his children. In an interview with The Bulletin, it was implied that Stokes was estranged from his first family. His second marriage was to his receptionist, Denise, with whom he had two sons. Denise walked out of the marriage and went overseas, and Stokes became a single father. His third marriage was to Australian television actress Peta Toppano in 1992. This marriage lasted for three years. In 1996 he married his fourth wife, Christine Simpson (née Parker), a newsreader for rival station Channel 10 when they first met. Stokes has three grandchildren.[1][2]

Net worth[edit]

As of 2019, Forbes assessed Stokes' net worth as US$2.90 billion.[14] As of May 2023, the Australian Financial Review assessed Stokes' net worth as A$7.45 billion, the twelfth-richest Australian; and he was one of ten Australians who have appeared in every Financial Review Rich List, or its predecessor, the BRW Rich 200, since it was first published in 1984.

Year Financial Review
Rich List
Australia's 50 Richest
Rank Net worth (A$) Rank Net worth (US$)
2015[15] 23 Decrease $1.20 billion Decrease
2016[16] 27 Decrease $1.00 billion Decrease
2017[17][18][19] 14 $2.90 billion Increase 14 Increase $2.60 billion Decrease
2018[20][21] 13 Increase $4.93 billion Increase $3.10 billion Increase
2019[14][22] 11 Increase $5.69 billion Increase 12 Increase $2.90 billion Decrease
2020[23] 10 Increase $6.26 billion Increase
2021[24] 13 Decrease $7.18 billion Increase
2022 12 Increase $7.00 billion Decrease
2023[5] 12 Steady $7.45 billion Increase
Icon Description
Steady Has not changed from the previous year
Increase Has increased from the previous year
Decrease Has decreased from the previous year


In 1995 Stokes was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to business and commerce to the arts and to the community.[3] In 2008 Stokes was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for service to business and commerce through strategic leadership and promotion of corporate social responsibility, to the arts through executive roles and philanthropy, and to the community, particularly through contributions to organisations supporting youth.[4] His passionate interest in art coincides with his long association with the National Gallery of Australia, where he served as chairman for several years and has made multimillion-dollar donations.

He has also been awarded the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award by Rotary International and holds a life membership of the Returned and Services League of Australia, on whose behalf Stokes has acquired three Victoria Crosses, as well as other medals. These medals have been added to the collection of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. He now sits on the council of the War Memorial.

In November 2012, Stokes was named Western Australia's Australian of the Year for his extensive philanthropic contributions to Australian society.[25] In 1994, Stokes delivered the Boyer Lectures, a series of five lectures broadcast annually on ABC radio. His series was entitled "Advance Australia Where?" on the topic of the Information Superhighway.[26] He delivered the Andrew Olle Media Lecture in October 2001.[27]

Victoria Cross[edit]

Stokes has taken an active role in preserving Australian ownership of significant military heritage; he has now purchased three Australian Victoria Cross medal sets, and a George Cross medal set. Stokes has purchased all four sets via auction from Bonhams & Goodman of Sydney, Australia. The first was the VC medal set of Captain Alfred John Shout, paying a world record price of A$1.2 million on 24 July 2006.[28] In the same auction, he purchased the GC medal set of Lieutenant Commander George Gosse for A$180,000.[29] On 28 November of the same year, Stokes purchased the VC set of Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon for A$478,000.[30] He donated all three sets to the Australian War Memorial.

On 20 May 2008, Stokes, in conjunction with the South Australian Government, purchased the Victoria Cross medal set of Major Peter Badcoe for A$480,000.[31] The Badcoe medals were on public display in the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, and on tour in South Australia, for twelve months before going on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.[32]


On 23 April 2020, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Stokes and his wife, Christine Simpson, were granted quarantine within their own home after returning from a skiing trip in Colorado instead of in a hotel on medical grounds. However, it was unclear why Simpson was also given an exemption to strict State and Federal laws at the time.[33][34][35]

After Seven Network employee and former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith sued the publishers of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times for defamation, it was reported in 2020 that Stokes’ private investment company, Australian Capital Equity, had extended a line of credit to Roberts-Smith of around A$2 million to help fund his legal case.[36] Roberts-Smith reportedly offered his Victoria Cross medal as collateral for the loan.[37][38] On 1 June 2023 Australian federal court Judge Anthony Besanko dismissed the case, ruling that, on the balance of probabilities, the papers had established substantial or contextual truth of allegations of war crimes committed by Roberts-Smith.[39][40]


  1. ^ a b c Aiton, Doug (13 February 2015). "25 facts you didn't know about Kerry Stokes". The New Daily. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Knox, Malcolm (18 October 2013). "Billionaire's 'forgotten' family speaks out". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) entry for Mr Kerry Matthew STOKES". It's an Honour, Australian Honours Database. Canberra, Australia: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 January 1995. Retrieved 22 December 2020. For service to business and commerce, to the arts, and to the community.
  4. ^ a b "Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) entry for Mr Kerry Matthew STOKES". It's an Honour, Australian Honours Database. Canberra, Australia: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2020. For service to business and commerce through strategic leadership and promotion of corporate social responsibility, to the arts through executive roles and philanthropy, and to the community, particularly through contributions to organisations supporting youth.
  5. ^ a b Bailey, Michael; Sprague, Julie-anne (26 May 2023). "The 200 richest people in Australia revealed". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  6. ^ Birmingham, John (April 2006). "The Outsider". The Monthly: 40–46.
  7. ^ Thompson, Brad (20 August 2015). "Stokes joins WA cattle drive". The West Australian. Yahoo7. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  8. ^ Condon, Jon (11 August 2015). "Stokes re-enters northern WA cattle industry with Napier Downs purchase". Beef Central. Nascon Media Pty Ltd. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Kerry Stokes builds his cattle empire in Western Australia's far north". Australian Financial Review. 28 September 2017.
  10. ^ Mayne, Stephen (14 January 2008). "The day Alan Jackson lost his cool". The Mayne Report. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  11. ^ Joint Seven and TiVo announcement – 30 May 2007
  12. ^ Avenell, Patrick (3 September 2014). "'We have no regrets': Channel Seven washes hands of TiVo in Australia". Appliance Retailer. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  13. ^ Kitney, Damon; Clegg, Brett (2006). "Stokes, KKR in $3.5bn Seven deal". Australian Financial Review. pp. 1, 14.
  14. ^ a b "2019 Australia's 50 Richest". Forbes Asia. January 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  15. ^ "2015 Australia's 50 Richest". Forbes Asia. March 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Gina Rinehart Loses Her No. 1 Spot". Forbes Asia. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  17. ^ Stensholt, John, ed. (25 May 2017). "Financial Review Rich List 2017". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  18. ^ Mayne, Stephen (26 May 2017). "Mayne's take: The top 25 Australian billionaires, as claimed by Fairfax". Crikey. Private Media. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Australia's Richest 2017: Country's Wealthiest Continue Mining For Dollars". Forbes Asia. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  20. ^ Stensholt, John, ed. (25 May 2018). "2018 AFR Rich List: Who are Australia's richest people?". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Kerry Stokes net worth". Forbes. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  22. ^ Bailey, Michael (30 May 2019). "Australia's 200 richest people revealed". Australian Financial Review. Nine Publishing. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  23. ^ Bailey, Michael; Sprague, Julie-anne (30 October 2020). "The full list: Australia's wealthiest 200 revealed". Australian Financial Review. Nine Publishing. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  24. ^ Bailey, Michael; Sprague, Julie-anne (27 May 2021). "The 200 richest people in Australia revealed". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  25. ^ "Stokes WA Australian of the Year - the West Australian". Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  26. ^ "ABC Radio National - the Boyer Lectures - About". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  27. ^ |date= December 2019
  28. ^ Bonhams & Goodman Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine – Lot No. 1078 – Captain Alfred John Shout VC medal set.
  29. ^ Bonhams & Goodman Archived 28 February 2008 at – Lot No. 1079 – Lieutenant Commander George Gosse GC medal set.
  30. ^ Bonhams & Goodman[permanent dead link] – Lot No. 205 – Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon VC medal set.
  31. ^ Bonhams & Goodman[permanent dead link] – Lot No. 25 – Major Peter Badcoe VC medal set
  32. ^ Bonhams & Goodman Archived 23 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine – Mystery Buyer of Vietnam War Victoria Cross and Burke and Wills Breastplate revealed
  33. ^ "Billionaire excused from mandatory quarantine". 23 April 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  34. ^ "Billionaire exempted from mandatory hotel quarantine after returning from ski resort". The Independent. 23 April 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  35. ^ "Billionaire media mogul Kerry Stokes exempt from strict quarantine rules". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  36. ^ "Ben Roberts-Smith owes Kerry Stokes $1.9m". Australian Financial Review. 15 November 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  37. ^ McKinnell, Jamie (1 June 2023). "Ben Roberts-Smith tried to clear his name — it proved to be an expensive own goal". ABC News. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  38. ^ Doherty, Ben (1 June 2023). "Ben Roberts-Smith loses defamation case, with judge finding former SAS soldier committed war crimes". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  39. ^ "Ben Roberts-Smith: Top Australian soldier loses war crimes defamation case". BBC News. 1 June 2023. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  40. ^ Barnes, Terry (1 June 2023). "Ben Roberts-Smith and the murky debate over accountability in war". The Spectator. Retrieved 1 June 2023.

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