29 Nov 2013

Graeme Hart's packaging firm saves money with cheaper loan

7:47 am on 29 November 2013

Just as New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart, seems to be getting his unwieldy debt mountain under control, he's having to contend with labour unrest.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mr Hart has managed to cut his interest bill by more than $US85 million by tapping the cheap US debt market.

Merchant bank Credit Suisse has repriced a $US2.2 billion term loan owed by Mr Hart's global packaging empire, Reynolds Group.

The new loan will save the group about $US17 million a year through to when the loan matures in December 2018.

Reynolds Group targeted by activists

Meanwhile, online magazine Salon reports Reynolds is being targeted by activists globally over its plans to cut wages and benefits paid to workers in California who work for a Reynolds subsidiary called Pactiv.

The activists and employees are targeting Starbucks and McDonalds which buy coffee cups from Pactiv.

They are co-ordinating protests, holding rallies and leafleting in cities including Seoul, Paris, Auckland and Seattle where they have targeted both the Starbucks corporate headquarters and the home of its chief executive, Howard Schultz.

Members of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers allege that Pactiv is demanding needless wage and benefit cuts from workers who make the Starbucks cups at a factory in Stockton in California.

The association has also roped in other labour groups including the International Workers of the World's Starbucks Workers Union and the Sindicato de Starbucks Chile.

They complain Mr Schultz was paid $US28.9 million last year while baristas earn less than $9 an hour on average.