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AXA IM strikes A$700m deal for Australian timberland

Funds managed by Global Forestry Partners first invested in the 24,000 hectare estate in 1999 and will now be managed by British GP Gresham House Forestry.

AXA IM Alts has agreed a deal to acquire 24,000 hectares of Australian timberland and an associated forest management business from funds managed by Global Forest Partners.

Financial details were undisclosed but Agri Investor understands the deal for the Green Triangle Forest Products estate is worth more than A$700 million ($514 million; €433 million).

The assets are located in southeast South Australia and southwest Victoria in an area known as the Green Triangle, due to its status as one of the country’s largest forestry regions.

AXA IM Alts did not disclose specific details on the source of capital used to fund the acquisition. A statement from the firm said the purchase was made “on behalf of clients by AXA IM Alts’ market leading real assets team.”

The assets will be managed by British asset manager Gresham House Forestry, which plans to launch up to three new distinct international forestry funds of its own this year, one of which will target Australasia. The firm has already launched a UK-focused £300 million ($424 million; €348 million) forestry and carbon credits fund this year.

Gresham House has not managed forestry assets in Australia before but chief investment officer David Gardner, who joined from Global Forest Partners – the seller in this deal – in June 2020, “has extensive experience in Australian forestry and over 30 years of experience in the global forest industry, with the last 10 years focused on international institutional investment and asset management in forestry,” a Gresham House spokesperson told Agri Investor in an email.

“This mandate, together with other transactions in progress, will provide a very solid base for the launch of our sustainable international forestry strategy to be launched at the end of the year,” they added.

Funds advised by Global Forest Partners first invested in the Green Triangle Forest Products estate in 1999 and took full ownership in 2008.

The assets include more than 22,000ha of productive and sustainably managed land, according to AXA IM Alts, comprised of a mixed-age portfolio of Radiata Pine forests. The acquisition represents the firm’s first investment into Australia’s forestry market.

AXA IM Alts forestry portfolio also includes approximately 60,000ha of assets across France, Finland and Ireland. AXA IM Alts has approximately €162 billion of assets under management.