Iris Fontbona

Chile's Mining Magnate and Philanthropist
Iris Fontbona

Iris Fontbona

Iris Fontbona, an influential figure in Chile's business landscape, is a name synonymous with both wealth and philanthropy. Born in 1942 or 1943, she has cemented her status as a billionaire businesswoman and the wealthiest individual in Chile. Her remarkable journey, defined by business acumen and generosity, is an inspiration to many. In 2023, Forbes estimated her net worth to be an impressive 2,080 crores USD, further solidifying her position as one of the world's most influential and affluent individuals.

The Inheritance of a Mining Empire

Iris Fontbona's rise to prominence in the world of business came following the passing of her husband, Andrónico Luksic Abaroa, in 2005 due to cancer. Inheriting the bulk of her husband's business empire, she assumed control of a vast and diversified conglomerate, setting her on a path to becoming one of the most influential women in the world.

While the Luksic legacy was passed down to their three sons, Guillermo, Jean-Paul, and Andrónico, it was Jean-Paul who assumed the reins of Antofagasta, Luksic Group's copper mining arm. Antofagasta is a significant player in the global mining industry, ranking among the largest mining companies on the planet.

A Diverse Business Portfolio

Iris Fontbona and her family exercise substantial control over Antofagasta, a mining company based in Santiago, Chile. Through Quiñenco, a publicly traded company, they further command a diverse array of businesses. These include Banco de Chile, Madeco (a copper products manufacturer), CCU (Chile's largest brewer), and CSAV (a shipping company), which ranks as the 16th largest shipping company globally in terms of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).

In the years following her husband's passing, Fontbona demonstrated remarkable business acumen, steering their family enterprise towards newfound success. This included transforming their business into the second-largest bank in Chile, the world's largest brewer, the manager of the globe's largest copper mines, and control of the world's most extensive shipping company.

Apart from these endeavours, Fontbona has ventured into the luxury hospitality sector with a pair of luxury hotel chains and a luxurious resort in Croatia. Her diverse business portfolio reflects her ability to navigate multiple industries with precision.

One notable strategic move was her acquisition of a 70% stake in Chilean television station Canal 13, showcasing her interest in media and entertainment. Much of her influence in the company seems to be indirect, with major decisions primarily requiring her approval, especially when impacting operations run by her son, Andrónico Luksic Craig.

A Philanthropic Heart

Iris Fontbona is not just known for her business achievements but also for her heartfelt philanthropy. In 2015, she made a record-breaking donation of CL$ 3.1 billion (approximately US$3.9 million) to the annual Chilean Telethon, a charity event aimed at supporting children with physical disabilities. Her involvement extended beyond financial contributions, as she also appeared on television during the telethon, lending her support to the cause.

The following year, in 2016, Fontbona once again exhibited her generosity by donating CL$ 4.4 billion (approximately US$5.5 million), contributing to the event's fundraising records. Her philanthropic endeavours reflect her commitment to the well-being of Chile's children and her dedication to making a positive impact on society.

A Life of Significance

Iris Fontbona's life journey is one of remarkable significance. Born into a Catholic family, she met Andrónico Luksic Abaroa when she was just 17, eventually marrying him by the time she turned 20. Their life together was marked by success, family, and a shared devotion to the Roman Catholic faith.

Despite the challenges life presented, including the loss of a son to lung cancer, Fontbona's commitment to her family and business remained steadfast. She divides her time among three primary residences in Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, Belgravia in London, and Liechtenstein.

Notably, Iris Fontbona maintains a low profile, rarely granting interviews. However, her philanthropic and business endeavours have thrust her into the global spotlight, cementing her legacy as a Chilean mining magnate with a heart for giving back to her community and the world at large.

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