Graeme Hart's Rank Group may sell its US auto parts businesses as New Zealand's richest man seeks to reduce debt, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. Auckland-based Rank Group declined to comment to BusinessDesk.
Rank has spoken to investment banks in recent weeks about potentially selling two automotive aftermarket companies, UCI International and FRAM Group Holdings, Reuters said. Rank acquired UCI for US$980 million and FRAM Group for US$950 million in 2011 and the businesses are operated by a common senior management team, Reuters said.
The discussions are at an early stage and no final decision has been made on whether Rank will try to sell both companies, Reuters cited the unidentified people as saying. Falling prices and lower profit margins are leading to consolidation in the highly fragmented car parts aftermarket, Reuters said.
Last month, Reuters reported that Rank Group was also exploring the sale of SIG Combibloc Group that could value the world's second-largest maker of drink cartons at around US$5 billion.
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The transactions would help Hart reduce billions of debt accumulated during a series of leveraged buy-outs over the last five years, which gave Hart a commanding global position in the packaging industry. Two months ago, Hart sold out of the pulp, paper and packaging businesses of Carter Holt Harvey, although he continues to own the building products arm of CHH.
Hart is worth about $6.4 billion, according to the 2013 NBR Rich List.