Graeme Hart

Graeme Hart

Graeme Hart (born 1955) is a New Zealand businessman reported to be the richest person in New Zealand with a personal fortune of NZ$6.1 billion [The Kiwi who's richer than Trump, [ NZ Herald March 7 2008] ] according to the 2008 Forbes rich list. The 2007 September 22-28 Issue of the New Zealand Listener listed Hart as being the 29th most powerful New Zealander. [The People Who Shape Our World, [ The New Zealand Listener September 22-28 2007] ] He prefers to stay out of the general media and makes few public appearances.

Hart has a preference for buying under performing companies which can be turned around through strong management, cost-cutting and integration with other businesses. Since his 2006 purchase of Carter Holt Harvey he has focused his acquisitions on the paper packaging sector.

Current interests

Rank Group

Rank Group is Graeme Hart's private investment company. It is the 100% owner of Burns Philp and Carter Holt Harvey. Rank had assets of approximately NZ$3bn in cash after selling the assets of Burns Philp and floating Goodman Fielder in 2004.

In December 2006 he agreed to purchase International Paper's drinks packaging business Evergreen Packaging for NZ$725m. In May 2007 he bought Swiss packaging company SIG for NZ$3.2bn. The SIG Division Combibloc is the second largest food and drink carton packaging company in the world after Swedish giant Tetra Laval. In August 2007 Hart completed his US$450m purchase of US paper packaging company Blue Ridge Paper Products of North Carolina which he intends to merge with Evergreen Packaging of Arkansas. These acquisitions make Rank Group the world's 2nd biggest player in the paper products business. [National Business Review 2007 Rich List] Goodman stake fetches $676m, [ The New Zealand Herald 20 October 2007] ]

Hart's 'company vehicle' is a Bombardier BD 700 Global Express corporate jet registered N18WZ, owned by Rank Group through Wells Fargo, and operated by Cayman Islands-registered Felham Enterprises. He is reputed to have ordered a replacement brand new Global Express XRS. []

Burns Philp

Burns Philp and Company Limited was an Australian and New Zealand food manufacturing company dual listed on the ASX and NZX. Hart has been the chairman since September 2004 and a member of the Board of Directors since September 1997. In 2003 Burns Philp performed a A$2.4bn hostile takeover of the much larger food group Goodman Fielder before relisting it through an IPO.

Following the sale of its yeast and spices business to UK firm Associated British Foods, Uncle Toby's to Nestle for NZ$1.1bn and Bluebird Foods to PepsiCo for NZ$245m the company became largely a cashed up shell.

In December 2006, Hart completed a A$1.6bn takeover of the 42 per cent of Burns Philp he didn't already own. After the successful takeover Burns Philp was delisted from the ASX and NZX. The deal gave him total control of A$2.9bn of Burns Philp cash, net of debt, which he could then use to further build on his Carter Holt Harvey empire.

Hart sold Burn Philp's 20% stake in Goodman Fielder for NZ$675.8m in October 2007.

Carter Holt Harvey

In 2006 Hart paid NZ$3.3bn for Carter Holt Harvey (CHH), a New Zealand timber and paper business. Soon after completing the purchase he began restructuring the struggling company starting with the sale of CHH's forests to US-based Hancock Timber Group for up to NZ$2bn. Hart has also sold CHH's head office property, various sawmills and packaging plants for over NZ$300m. In 2007 he announced the sale of CHH's building supplies business which some estimate could fetch NZ$2.3bn.

Hart's strategic focus appears to be on the packaging side of CHH.

Early years

Hart's successful business career has humble origins—in his younger days, he worked as a tow-truck driver and as a panel beater after leaving school at 16.

In 1987, Hart completed an MBA from the University of Otago. His research thesis outlines the strategy for Rank, then a small hire company, to evolve into a major corporation.

Hart gained a big break when he purchased the Government Printing Office for less than its capital value in 1990. The following year he bought Whitcoulls Group which at that time included a retail chain of bookstores as well as office and stationery concerns. He has since sold off these interests.


Graeme Hart lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with his wife and two children.

He attended Mount Roskill Grammar School.

Hart says he lacks interest in making money for its own sake. He describes his personal wealth—estimated at NZ$6.1bn—as a "by-product" of what he does.

While he prefers to keep a low profile in the general media he was notable for the launch of his 58m luxury motor yacht Ulysses at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour in January 2006. The yacht is valued at nearly $100m and took five years to complete due to being gutted by a fire during refit by a New Orleans shipyard.

In January 2007 Hart rescued three people and a dog from their burning boat off Waiheke Island, near Auckland.

In March 2008, an area of 1000 square meters which included protected native trees was cleared on Hart's Waiheke Island estate. Following a complaint, authorities investigated and a fine of $300 NZD was issued, which Hart is disputing and has not paid. [The $4 billion man with a $300 problem [ The New Zealand Herald 23 March 2008] ]


External links

* [ Carter Holt Harvey website] .

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