HART Graeme

Graeme Hart
Packaging, Investment
$7 billion

With markets running hot, it comes as no surprise that Graeme Hart is showing some signs of developing an exit strategy for some of his packaging empire.

His huge Reynolds Group conglomerate may still be burdened by staggering amounts of debt – $US18 billion at last count – but it also makes cash hand over fist when the global economy is on the up.

But Mr Hart must now take the opportunity to deleverage. He looks to be doing that by slicing off businesses on the periphery, such as Carter Holt Harvey’s pulp and paper packaging business and Swiss-based Sig, the world’s second largest maker of drink cartons.

If Mr Hart can rake $US6-7 billion from these assets, he will be able to keep cranking out revenue from Reynolds while turning more of it into profit.

Reynolds has almost tripled its total assets since the end of 2009 to $US22.38 billion as at December 31 and has annual revenue of more than $US14 billion.

Whether these first deals morph into a bigger break-up scenario remains to be seen but, as always, it will be fascinating to watch how he positions his pieces when he is in deal making phase.

Mr Hart doesn’t talk to the media much, preferring to let his actions speak for him. But he would have more admirers than critics, even in tall poppy Kiwi land.

Members of the investment community in New Zealand look on in awe at what he is doing and has already accomplished.

An uncompromising dealmaker, Mr Hart keeps his business affairs tightly structured and keeps close-knit group of hardworking, smart executives, who he pays exceptionally well.

He’s also a family man who supports Kings College and loves to spend time with his children, recently pictured touring Colorado in a magnificent recreational vehicle.

Back here, Mr Hart and his wife Robyn own a $30 million cliff top home on Riddell Rd, Auckland.

The 2ha property now includes a huge three-level banquet hall with a pool and piazza area to complement the main mansion, summer house, guest quarters and tennis court.

He also owns property on Waiheke Island, two super yachts – the 58m-foot yacht Grand Rusalina (ex Ulysses) and the 77m Project Weta (also known as Hull U77), a property in Aspen and an island in Fiji.

Grand Rusalina is listed for sale on boatinternational.com by Fraser Yachts and Burgess Yachts asking $US36.5 million. In May she was spotted in Viareggio, northern Tuscany, after undergoing a major refit and maintenance in Monaco in February.