English-born Australian entrepreneur. He was chair of the Bond Corporation 1969–90 during which time its aggressive takeover strategy gave the company interests in brewing, the media, mining, and retailing. However, Bond's compulsive takeover deals and excessive borrowing from banks eventually led to the corporation's bankruptcy, forcing his resignation in January 1990 and leaving the company with debts of A$600 million. He has been charged three times with fraud and imprisoned twice.
In 1988 the Bond Corporation had assets of almost A$10 billion and Bond was Australia's fifth-richest man, with personal wealth of A$400 million. The collapse of the Bond empire in 1990 left thousands of investors impoverished, and shook both Australian and international business confidence.
Bond was jailed for fraud in May 1992, though the sentence was quashed on appeal in November that year. He was again jailed for fraud in 1996, and given an additional sentence for fraud in 1997. He was released in March 2000, and has since restored his fortunes with estimated wealth of A$265 million in 2008, derived primarily from oil and mining interests in Madagascar and Lesotho.
Bond's family emigrated from England to Fremantle, Western Australia, in 1950. He left school at 15 and worked initially as a sign writer before borrowing A$13,000 to buy a tract of land in Perth in 1960. He went into the construction and property business, and in 1969 his holdings were incorporated as West Australian Land Holdings – renamed Bond Corporation Holdings in 1974.
In 1983 Bond led a syndicate that sponsored the winning yacht Australia II in the America's Cup race. In 1985 he purchased the Castlemaine Tooheys brewery for A$1.2 billion, in what was then Australia's largest takeover. Having previously bought the Swan Brewery for A$167 million in 1982, this acquisition gave Bond over 40% of the Australian beer market. In 1987 he took over St Joe Gold Corp. and Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie, and bought Channel Nine TV from Australian entrepreneur Kerry Packer for A$1 billion (although he later sold it back to Packer for a quarter of the price). He survived the stock market crash that year, even buying the Van Gogh painting Irises for a record US$49 million.
By 1988 he owned British Satellite Broadcasting (later to become part of Australian-born US entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB) and the Bell Group (having bought out Australian entrepreneur Robert Holmes à Court). He unsuccessfully attempted a takeover of the land and mining company Lonrho, owned by English financier Tiny Rowland.
Declared bankrupt in April 1992 with debts of at least A$275 million, his first sentence for fraud related to the collapse of an Australian merchant bank. When his sentence was quashed, his creditors accepted settlement and released him from bankruptcy in February 1995. His second sentence related to corporate fraud involving the Manet painting La Promenade, and the third to defrauding the shareholders of Bell Resources (in the largest fraud in Australian history).