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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
subject: frank lowy 21 Frank Lowy is grateful to Australia for the opportunities he was given a er arriving in 1952 as a penniless refugee from war torn Europe. He found a country that embraced fresh ideas and innovation, and with hard work he was able to make a huge success from his e orts. "I was welcomed in Australia from day one," he says. "I never su ered any kind of discrimination. Australia has been wonderful to me. It gave me opportunities I couldn't have dreamed of. e fact I didn't speak much English and I had li le education or money made no di erence. I am, and will always be, deeply grateful to Australia, my adopted country. is is a country of fairness and equality." It's a statement typical of the humility and work ethic of a man who has achieved so much, yet continues to dream. A er eight tumultuous decades of life, Frank Lowy, one of the world's richest and most successful retail developers, should be enjoying the fruits of his labour aboard his luxury US$80 million yacht, Ilona. It's not like he hasn't earned the right to kick back a li le. He is respected and feted at the highest levels around the world. His enormous property empire, stretching from his hometown of Sydney to the United States and Britain, is in its ieth year as the world's largest listed property group in terms of market capitalisation, with 119 shopping centres worth AU$70 billion. Management remains a tightly held family a air, with the group in the safe hands of Lowy and sons Peter, Steven and David. e group is busy building the planet's two largest shopping centre developments: in Sydney's CBD and Stratford, near London's 2012 Olympic site. His legacy is also safe. He has established a well-regarded political and social research centre and forum called the Lowy Institute for International Policy. His name is on a new cancer research centre to which he donated AU$10 million. He's on the board of Australia's Reser ve Bank, and has been president of the board of trustees for the prestigious Art Gallery of New South Wales. He's famed for his philanthropy, donating millions of dollars every year and he's proudly seen his three sons move into the massive international retail mall business he built from scratch. Yes, a li le R&R would be well-deser ved, but try telling that to Frank Lowy. Lowy is now in the middle of an extraordinary David and Goliath struggle to win the world's biggest sporting prize for his country. In December 2010 FIFA will decide which country will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Don't be surprised if the outcome is a shock to the soccer establishment. Lowy wants Australia to host the football World Cup in 2018. It is an extraordinary crusade, pursued with all the vigour of a young striker. It has taken him across the world, seeking support from the likes of Desmond Tutu for something more mature soccer nations like Britain consider astonishing cheek or sheer folly. His campaign is a li le like the time Australia stole the America's Cup, one of yachting's most lauded trophies and long considered US property. In its way, ghting for the World Cup is very Australian. Cheeky. Brave. Perhaps reckless. Yet wonderfully courageous. If the FIFA o cials didn't know who they were dealing with at the outset, they probably have some inkling now: a unique individual, but one whose tale is peculiarly Australian. Lowy sees football as the glue that binds people together. "It opens doors and builds friendships like nothing else. It can do this be er than business, be er than governments, be er than any individual could ever hope to do." He has earned his right to dream. As a young teenager Lowy was forced to sur vive on the war-torn streets of Budapest, hiding from the Nazis, scrounging food, living on his wits trying to protect his family. He lay awake at night listening in horror as Nazi thugs worked their way ever closer to the family's hiding place, beating and killing Jews. His father was out trying to get food when he was seized and taken to Auschwitz concentration camp and beaten to death. Lowy sur vived, but kept his nightmares of the Holocaust buried deep within for the next 40 years. When World War II was nally over, the 17-year-old Frank Lowy and thousands of other young Jews took up guns to ght for the sur vival of the edgling State of Israel. He became a commando, skilled at ghting silently and killing with knives and hands at close quarters. Surviving the Holocaust bred a toughness in him, a determination never to give in that has remained with him ever since. In 1952 his sister, brother and mother migrated to Australia, and he decided to join them. He knew nothing about the country, but Australia was the new world, and a fresh start. He got a job in a tool-making factory. "Even though I was a newcomer and spoke HE ARRIVED PENNILESS. NOW HE RUNS THE WORLD'S BIGGEST RETAIL EMPIRE. BY FRANK WALKER lord of the mall