Even though the Australian economy extended its recession free run into a 21st year, 2012 can only be described as a hard year for local businesses.
A struggling global economy, low local consumer confidence, a surging Aussie dollar and falling commodity prices all contributed to making life difficult for company owners.
Certain companies had a worse time of it than others with those in the media, mining and retail sectors doing it particularly tough.
The bad headlines just kept rolling in during 2012 for the 36 year old mining upstart. Tinkler’s troubles came into focus in August when he was accused of failing to meet the superannuation obligations of workers at his horse-racing stables and was unable to raise $28.4 million to fulfill an obligation to buy a 34 per cent stake in coal company Blackwood Corp.
Related: 2012 Year in Review - Tinkler's troubles
Tinkler was forced to sell off assets to service debts, had several companies liquidated and would eventually have his prized private jet repossessed. To finish off the year the ATO filed documents with the Federal Court to wind up Mr Tinkler's Hunter Sports Group, owner of the Newcastle Knights and the Jets, due to debts of $2.7 million.
During the year Gina became and then lost the title of the world’s richest woman as falling iron ore prices reduced her enviable fortune. The mining magnate lost around $150 on investments in Fairfax Media and Network Ten and also struggled to suppress details from a bitter court dispute with her children over the running of the multi-billion dollar family trust.
While she remains the nation’s wealthiest individual her reputation in the eyes of the public may have taken a downward turn after a series of scathing attacks on what she calls the country’s “class warfare”. She warned Australians that Africans were willing and wanted to work for a fraction of what local employees demanded and advised her compatriots to get out of the pub if they wanted to be wealthy.
The Biggest Busts of 2012
• Darrell Lea
• Payless Shoes
• Gunns Limited
See the complete list of Australian business busts
Traditional bricks and mortar retailers like Myer, Billabong and Harvey Norman saw their profits and customers continue to shift to online rivals. Billabong had the worst of it and endured two failed takeover bids and a share price that fell from above $3 in 2011 to around $90 at the end of 2012.
One of the country’s oldest media companies was forced to cut some 1,900 jobs, close major printing presses and reduce costs in an effort to compete with leaner digital rivals. The company’s shares remain at historic lows.