HART Graeme

Packaging, Investment
$9 billion

It’s almost 10 years to the day since Graeme Hart’s investment vehicle Rank Group launched a takeover to buy Carter Holt Harvey.

Now Rank intends on floating what’s left of the company on the local stock exchange. However, these plans are currently on hold, with Carter Holt issuing a statement in June citing an uncertain earnings outlook for the delay.

Mr Hart and his inner circle have demonstrated both rapid deal execution and patience in the past, so investment bankers needn’t panic just yet if thinking the deal is off the table.

Even though an IPO could value Carter Holt at $1 billion, it is really just a small part of Mr Hart’s global empire.

 Rank paid $3.31 billion for Carter Holt in 2006, and has since sold off the company’s forestry and farm land and its pulp and paper unit, leaving a smaller business focused on wood products and building supplies.

But buying the business back in 2005/06 was a catalyst for Mr Hart’s expansion, helping create a packaging conglomerate with more than $23 billion of assets at its peak.

Most of the products under his wing are basic every day items such as milk cartons, water bottles, paper and foil.

Mr Hart has, however, been deleveraging in recent times, selling off some companies to pay down debt. 

In November, his Reynolds Group Holdings sold subsidiary SIG for $US4.7 billion to Canadian billionaire Gerald Schwartz’ Onex Group.

Mr Hart’s dealmaking is legendary in New Zealand. One in particular is worth recalling.

A few days before Rank made its first move on Carter Holt, it sold New Zealand Dairy Foods to Fonterra for $754 million.

That wasn’t a bad deal, considering Rank paid less than half that amount less than three years earlier. And in case you didn’t know, it was Fonterra he bought it from in the first place. 

Mr Hart’s net worth has risen sharply in New Zealand dollar terms in recent months due to a weaker Kiwi dollar against currencies of countries where his assets are based.

Mr Hart’s story is very much that of a self-made man: he left school at 16 and once worked as a tow truck driver.

Now he and his wife share a $30 million clifftop mansion on Riddell Rd, Auckland, property on Waiheke Island, two properties in Aspen, Colorado and a Fiji island.

Mr Hart’s passion for super yachts is also profound. 

In November, he reportedly ordered a new 117 metre ship just a few months after launching his 107 metre $78 million Ulysses in Norway.

His fleet also includes the 77 metre super yacht Weta.