Twiggy reveals real reason for shock split

Twiggy reveals real reason for shock split
Twiggy reveals real reason for shock split

Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest has addressed his shock separation from wife of 31-years Nicola Forrest in his first interview since the couple announced their split in July.

The Fortescue Metals Group boss, better known as ‘Twiggy’, was asked about his ex-wife and their separation in an interview on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia conference in Perth on Wednesday – a business summit to address climate change.

Mr Forrest revealed that the pair are on good terms.

“Nic and I are good mates, we speak all the time. She’s a fantastic lady,” he told 9 News.

“We made the call that it was better for everyone if we didn’t live right on top of each other but we still absolutely support each other.”

The Forrests made the shock announcement on July 12 that they had decided to “live apart” and were separating after 31 years of marriage. It is understood they have no plans to divorce.

The pair, who were Australia’s richest couple, decided to split their $35.21 billion fortune which was built from the iron ore miner which they founded in 2003.

Following the separation, Mr Forrest’s paper wealth took a huge hit and he fell from second place on the Australian Financial Review’s Rich List to 10th spot. He was worth $13.5 billion, according to the AFR’s analysis.

Meanwhile, Nicola’s wealth eclipsed that of her ex-husband’s after the split and she made her debut on the Rich List at eighth position overall. She became the third-richest woman in Australia, with a fortune of $14.6 billion, according to analysis from the AFR.

Speaking to reporters in Perth on Wednesday, Mr Forrest doubled down on his assurances to shareholders that the pair’s separation would not impact the business and they are “completely united” as professionals.

“Nic and I are lock-step on that — we are completely committed to Fortescue, to Tattarang, all the objectives of Minderoo (the couple’s charitable foundation), we are completely united,” he said.

It is not only change for Mr Forrest, who was also asked about the sudden departure of Fortescue chief executive officer Fiona Hick after she spent just six months in the job.

Mr Forrest was asked whether Ms Hick left the role or was pushed out – an assertion he denied.

“Fiona was given a choice to make and she chose, so I’d say she wasn’t pushed,” he told 9 News.

Ms Hick announced her resignation just two days after Fortescue threw a massive party in the Australian desert to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Ms Hick was reportedly in attendance.

In a statement on Monday announcing her departure, Fortescue said Ms Hick made a joint decision with the board which was “friendly and mutual”.

Mr Forrest said Fortescue had a “full and very green agenda” that people can either “get with” or not.

“I think it’s going to be great for shareholders, it’s absolutely essential for the environment, and you either get with it or you don’t, it’s just as simple as that,” he said.

He did not say whether Ms Hick was aligned with that agenda, but did reportedly tell the Australian Financial Review the “only reason” people would leave Fortescue was if they disagreed with the zero-carbon objective and the business decisions it informed.

“I’m not going to answer any further; you can come back 300 times you’ll get the same answer,” he told 9News.

Ms Hick was the latest in a string of senior executives to depart Twiggy’s empire as it pursues greener, cleaner energy projects, with at least 10 major changes to the Fortescue executive since 2021. Just two of the 22 senior executives listed in Fortescue’s 2021 annual report are still at the company.

Twiggy also spoke about climate change at the Boao Forum for Asia conference, which attracted a range of heavy-hitters from across Asia – including Chinese ambassador Xiao Qian.

The mining magnate warned attendees that millions of lives were in imminent danger from the increasing heat and humidity.