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Frank Lowy AC

b. 1930

Sir Frank Lowy AC (b. 1930) businessman, property developer and philanthropist, founded the Westfield group of shopping centres. A Jew from Czechoslovakia, Lowy migrated to Australia from Hungary via Israel, having fought in the Arab-Israeli war. He joined family members in a Sydney smallgoods delivery business in 1952. The following year he went into partnership with John Saunders, also an immigrant. They expanded first into property development in the city’s western suburbs, and opened their first mall in Sydney in 1959. In 1960 they listed Westfield Development Corporation on the stock exchange. Seventeen years later they expanded into the USA. After Saunders left in 1987, Lowy extended the business into New Zealand then the UK. By 2014 Westfield Group was one of the world’s largest shopping centre companies and Lowy was regularly listed amongst Australia’s wealthiest individuals. He served as Westfield’s chief executive officer for over 50 years before assuming a non-executive role in 2011. From 1995 to 2005 he was a director of the Reserve Bank. Meanwhile, from 2003 to 2015 he was chairman of the Football Federation Australia, lobbying to host the 2022 World Cup. In 2003 he founded a think tank, the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He has also been chairman of the Institute of National Securities Studies (INSS), an independent academic institute studying issues relating to Israel's national security and Middle East affairs. He was for many years a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and served for a time as president of the trustees (his son, Steven has also been the president); the Lowy Gonski Gallery was named for him (and David Gonski) in 2005. Amongst his causes is the University of New South Wales’s Lowy Cancer Research Centre; he has also donated substantially to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. In 2013, to honour the memory of his father, who was beaten to death by Nazis, he funded the restoration of a railway wagon used to transport Jews to Auschwitz and presided over its installation at the former camp. In 2014 Westfield split its operations into Australian and New Zealand businesses (the SCentre group of more than 40 shopping malls), and US, British and European businesses (the Westfield Corporation, also with some 40 shopping centres). Lowy’s sons joined him in business, but he remained the chairman of Westfield Corporation until its sale to a French property concern in 2017. There are two biographies of Lowy by Jill Margo, published in 2000 and 2015.

Updated 2017