SYDNEY - New Zealand businessman Graeme Hart has topped gaming magnate James Packer as the richest person in Australasia, according to Forbes Asia magazine's rich list.

Mr Hart's net worth was calculated at US$4.7 billion ($8.1 billion), well clear of Mr Packer who reclaimed the title of richest Australian with a net worth of US$3.1b, the magazine reported in its May issue.

It was first time since Forbes Asia began keeping track of global fortunes that a New Zealander had emerged on top in Australasia.

According to the magazine, which described him as "the master of the leveraged buyout", Mr Hart's net wealth dropped US$700 million in the past year, while Mr Packer's dropped by US$2.2b.

Mr Hart was well clear on Forbes Asia's New Zealand rich list, with Dubai-based brothers Christopher and Richard Chandler equal second with net worth of US$1b apiece.

Lynette Erceg, the widow of Independent Liquor founder Michael Erceg, was next on US$630m while Moscow-based Stephen Jennings (co-founder of brokerage and bank Renaissance Capital), rounded out the New Zealand top-five on US$500m.

On the Australian rich list, Mr Packer topped Westfield Group founder Frank Lowy (US$2.8b) and property magnate Harry Triguboff (US$2b).

- NZPA