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Graeme Hart Tops New Zealand’s Rich List, Chandler Advances

Graeme Hart, owner of the world’s second-largest drink-carton maker, retained his position as New Zealand’s richest person, with an estimated NZ$6.5 billion ($5.7 billion), according to National Business Review’s 2011 Rich List.

Hart’s wealth rose from NZ$5.5 billion a year earlier, the Review said. He has topped the list in nine of the past 10 years. Last month, his Reynolds Group Holdings Inc. said it planned to borrow $5 billion to buy York, Pennsylvania-based Graham Packaging Co., a plastic container company with customers such as PepsiCo Inc.

Second on the list is Richard Chandler, who’s wealth has surged to NZ$4 billion from NZ$1.4 billion a year earlier. The Singapore-based investor this month raised his stake in Sino-Forest Corp., the Chinese tree-farm operator, to 15 percent.

The Todd family, with an estimated NZ$2.7 billion through closely held Todd Corp. is third on the list. They have interests in New Zealand’s largest oil and gas fields, as well as in media and coal mining. Eamon Cleary, who owns Southland dairy farms and commercial property in Queenstown, is worth an estimated NZ$2 billion and ranks fourth.

Lynette Erceg, who sold her late husband Michael’s Independent Distiller Group company in 2006 and has reinvested in wine and property, is fifth with NZ$1.5 billion. Dubai-based Christopher Chandler, Richard’s brother, is equal fifth with NZ$1.5 billion, the Review said.

The 2011 list includes 151 entrants with a combined wealth of NZ$45.2 billion, up from NZ$38.2 billion last year.

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