In New Zealand he’s the richest individual; on Forbes magazine’s global billionaires list, Graeme Hart is No 178.
Forbes lists Mr Hart’s net worth at $US5.7 billion – down from the $US7.5 billion he was put at last year but up seven places on his 2011 listing. That leaves the former tow truck driver slightly behind former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is at No 169, with $US5.9 billion.
Mr Hart, who owns at least $150 million in super yachts, has not found his global business ventures all smooth sailing. The North American auto-parts supplier UCI Holdings, which Mr Hart’s Auckland-based Rank Group acquired early last year, recorded a net loss of $US46.5 million for the year to December 31, 2011, on a post-acquisition basis, compared with a $US23 million profit a year earlier.
But that is hardly likely to make a dent in his expanding packaging empire, Reynolds Group Holdings. The group, which includes Carter Holt Harvey, the US-based groups Pactiv Corporation, Graham Packaging and also Swiss company SiG and International Paper’s beverage packaging unit, had amassed total assets worth $US21.89 billion as at December 31 last year. On the other side of the ledger the group is carrying $US18.1 billion of debt.
Although Mr Hart has continued to expand his overseas interests, he still keeps a firm home base. Last year he added another two properties to the portfolio of addresses he holds in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers. The purchases, all within coo-ee of each other, take to seven the number of properties he owns there – the biggest of which is the $30 million 2ha clifftop spot he shares with his wife Robin.
Earlier this year Mr Hart ceased being a director of Carter Holt Harvey. He had been on the board since his Rank Group bought the company in 2005.