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Paul Ramsay, Australian billionaire leaves $3bn fortune to charity after death

Paul Ramsay's health empire made him one of the richest men in the country

One of the richest men in Australia has left his fortune of an estimated $3billion (£1.65billion) to charity.

Paul Ramsay died aged 78 at home in New South Wales on Thursday, following a short illness that started with a suspected heart attack on holiday in Spain.

As the founder and chairman of Ramsay Health Care, which runs about 120 hospitals around the world, he was listed by Forbes as the ninth-richest person in Australia.

His will has transferred the bulk of his estate to the established Paul Ramsay Foundation, which will become one of the wealthiest charities in the country.

John O’Grady, Ramsay Health Care’s group general counsel and secretary, said the money would be “of enduring benefit to the Australian community”.

He added: “The Foundation will receive the benefit of the vast majority of his controlling shareholding in Ramsay Health Care Limited, which will largely be retained on trust for the Foundation.”

No specific plans for the funds have yet been outlined.

Mr Ramsay, who never married and had no children, is survived by his twin sister Anne and brother Peter.

He was known for his large donations to charity, including $300,000 (£165,000) to the foundation set up by Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey.

After starting Ramsay Healthcare with a psychiatric hospital in Sydney in 1964, he led it to become of the largest providers in Australia.

In 1983 he moved into television and has a stake in regional TV network Prime and also had shares in a digital advertising firm.

Louise Walsh, the chief executive of Philanthropy Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald his last bequest could be the biggest single charitable donation in Australian history.

“Paul Ramsay’s decision is an incredible act of generosity,” she said.

Ms Walsh hoped it would “inspire other local entrepreneurs to follow his example.”