Paul Little (Australian businessman)

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Paul Little (born 1947) is an Australian businessman who was the managing director of Toll Holdings, a prominent Asian region integrated logistics provider. He retired from that position on 1 January 2012 after 26 years service.[1] He is one of the richest people in Australia, with an estimated net worth of $880 million in 2013.[2]

Business life[edit]

Little has been in the transport industry for nearly all his business life, first as an employee at Mayne Nickless, where he progressed to become national operations manager of the Seapak Transport Services division, and then at Peko Wallsend as a consultant where he assessed the desirability of purchasing the Toll business and then led the takeover which went on to become a prominent Australian transport services provider.[3]

Little subsequently further developed his ability to acquire new businesses, buying many between 1989 and 2000. He then began taking over two companies a year until 1997, when Toll paid $145 million for eight TNT transport and logistics businesses. In 2000, it paid $120 million for rival Finemores.[3]

Little also oversaw Toll's investments in technology, wine, rail freight and cargo shipping.[3]

Toll Holdings[edit]

In 1985, Little, along with businessmen Peter Rowsthorn as well as Rowsthorn's son, Mark Rowsthorn, and Lyall McLachlan, led a management buyout team which purchased Toll Holdings which in 1993 listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.[3][4]

Little and his team developed Toll from an 18-truck operation worth $1.5 million, into a $3.8 billion international organisation with 45,000 employees and operations in 50 countries.[2] As a result of his involvement in Toll Holdings, Little has become one of Australia's richest men.[2][5]

Little Projects[edit]

In 2011, Little founded Little Projects, a residential and commercial property projects group. His business philosophy is to provide a 'one-stop shop' approach, where clients deal with the one entity for all their real estate requirements encompassing buying, selling and comprehensive property management. To this end Little has purchased a range of complementary businesses including three L. J. Hooker real estate franchises. He has a large number of projects underway in Melbourne with a value of over $1 billion.[6]

Other business interests[edit]

Little also owns an aviation charter business, Little Aviation, which owns a $65 million Gulfstream G650ER jet. It employs three pilots.[6]

Sports management[edit]

Little has been prominently involved in professional sport in Australia. Initially in motor racing, Little sponsored John Sidney Racing and Anthony Tratt's Porsche racing team. In 1998 Tratt's team moved into V8 Supercars under Little's ownership as Paul Little Racing. The team folded in 2005 after eight seasons of racing.

On 29 July 2013, Little became the chairman of AFL football club, Essendon, replacing previous chairman, David Evans.[7] The role of an AFL football club chairman is often high profile and usually voluntary. Little served in the role for almost two and a half years, presiding over a turbulent time in the club's history as it faced allegations of running a program of illegal supplements during David Evans' tenure. Little stepped down on 14 December 2015, shortly before the final guilty verdict was returned in the supplements investigation, and was replaced by Lindsay Tanner.[8]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Winner of the inaugural Trans-Tasman Business Leader Award in 2005
  • Winner of the CA/Zurich Business Leader Award in 2002
  • Awarded a Doctor of Business honoris causa by RMIT University in 2008

Little is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT)

Personal life[edit]

Little is married to Jane Hansen, his second wife. In 2002, they paid a then record price for a Melbourne home when they bought the Toorak mansion Coonac for nearly $15 million. Little was previously married to Shirley, who died of cancer in 1991. Little has three children.[2]

Little and Hansen are active philanthropists with a particular interest in drug rehabilitation.

Little is very keen to stay fit and relax and his pursuits include skiing, mountain bike riding and trekking. He has a home gym, works out daily and often jogs or swims as part of his fitness routine. He loves motor racing and once owned a professional V8 Supercar racing team, Paul Little Racing.[2] He also raced competitively but was discouraged by his fellow board members at Toll Holdings due to the danger.[9]


  1. ^ "Although CEO Paul Little was sometimes controversial, shareholders have done well", The Australian, 27 October 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Calm in a crisis, and ready for the fight". The Age 24 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "How Little turned an ailing Toll into giant", The Age, 23 August 2005. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  4. ^ Company history on Toll Group website
  5. ^ "Essendon's chairman-elect Paul Little is on a mission to save James Hird", Herald Sun, 28 July 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Little's big plans for new private life", The Australian, 6 December 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  7. ^ "New Essendon chairman Paul Little reiterates Bombers' support of embattled coach James Hird". News Ltd, 29 July 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Essendon Football Club chairman Paul Little resigns, replaced by former Federal MP Lindsay Tanner". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "Directors going to extremes to balance boardroom life". The Australian 6 April 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2013.

External links[edit]