Manulife buys stake in $1.3bn Kiwi timberland company

The Canadian insurer has acquired the only timberland asset held by infrastructure fund manager Palisade.

Canadian insurer Manulife has bought a stake in Taumata Plantations, a timberland company, from Palisade Investment Partners for an undisclosed amount.

Taumata runs forestry operations on a total forest estate of about 190,000 hectares across New Zealand. It has assets of more than NZ$1.8 billion ($1.29 billion; €1.18 billion), according to Palisade.

The Perpetual Diversified Infrastructure Fund (PDIF), a vehicle managed by the eponymous Australian firm, originally purchased the Taumata stake in 2006. The interest was transferred to Palisade when the latter acquired Perpetual’s infrastructure funds in 2008.

It was the only timberland asset in Palisade’s portfolio, which comprises investments in the transport, energy, utilities, renewables, agri and social PPP sectors. Its sole remaining agri asset is a collection of regional livestock exchanges across Australia.

Palisade said the sale proceeds would be distributed to PDIF’s investors in November. A majority of LPs have decided to redeploy the money into the fund, according to the firm.

“We have been able to capitalise on the large volume of offshore capital looking to be invested in major unlisted assets and achieved the sale at an attractive price,” said Julian Widdup, the fund manager’s investment director, in a statement. He pointed out that Taumata is currently raking in record profits from high harvest volumes and strong timber prices.

Palisade declined to provide further details on the transaction, and Manulife had not responded to queries by press time.

The Palisade Diversified Infrastructure Fund has a mandate to invest in mid-market infrastructure assets in Australia and New Zealand.

As of 30 September, the yearly gross performance of the fund stood at 13.8 percent over three years and 13.9 percent over five years, Palisade said.

Reporting by Nia Tam.