MassPRIM seeks timberland and real estate consultant

Townsend Group has been the investor's advisor since 2011.

The Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board will issue a request for proposals for a real estate and timber consultant.

Townsend Group, which invests in real assets including timber and agriculture, is MassPRIM’s current advisor on real estate and timber investments.

Townsend’s work for MassPRIM, which started in 2011 and was renewed for three years in August 2014, includes strategic and portfolio services, support for other requests for proposals and an annual report on the fund’s real estate holdings.

In addition to the annual fee of $300,000 a year MassPRIM pays to Townsend for real estate consulting, the pension paid an additional $75,000 this year for advice on its timber investments, according to an email from the pension’s director of communications, Eric Convey.

MassPRIM began investing in timberland in 2002. Timber and natural resources now constitute about 4 percent of the $62.8 billion pension’s portfolio.

The fund’s timber investments lost 1 percent in the year ending August 31, according to a presentation given on Monday to the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems by MassPRIM senior client services officer Paul Todisco. The fund’s global timberland investments comprise 19 properties in two portfolios, according to the presentation.

Convey said that decrease in the value of the timber portfolio was attributable to a combination of lesser than expected lumber demand in certain parts of the United States and drops in the valuation of assets in the sector.

A Townsend representative did not return calls seeking comment by press time. The firm has assets under management of $14.7 billion, according to its website.