Molpus to sell nearly 46,000 acres of timberland

The manager said investors are looking 'beyond just growing wood', underlining an increasing focus on potential for income from residential, recreational, and conservation-related uses of timberland.

Mississippi-based timberland investment manager Molpus Woodlands Group has announced plans to sell 45,850 acres of investment-grade timberland spread across four states in the US south-east.

Grouped together as Project Magnolia, the properties Molpus has put up for sale include: 15,300 acres in North Carolina, 13,400 acres in Mississippi, 12,300 acres in Alabama and 4,850 acres in Georgia. The properties, being sold on behalf of a client, were purchased from International Paper Company in 2010 and are available as a package or individually.

“The diverse structure of this offering should accommodate immediate cashflow needs along with long-term investment performance,” Molpus wrote in the release. “Opportunities for commercial and residential development, conservation easements and sales of recreational land also increase the value of this property.”

Molpus director of value-add real estate Mark Power told Agri Investor that recent strength in regional real estate markets has informed the firm’s decision to present the properties partially in terms of their commercial, residential, recreational and conservation potential.

Power said positioning the properties in that way is in line with industry trends and has helped solicit interest from a range of investors that includes publicly-traded REITs, developers, high-net worth individuals as well as institutional investors.

“In the last five years, folks are becoming more aggressive in looking at those other attributes over and beyond just growing wood,” Power said. He declined to identify the seller or any of the parties that have expressed an interest thus far. Marketing of the assets began last week and Power said Molpus hopes to finalize a sale by mid-December.

Founded in 1996, Molpus acquires, manages, and sells timberland for pension funds, endowments, insurance companies and high net worth individuals. Its current portfolio includes more than 2 million acres spread across 18 states and Molpus is among the firms that contribute data to the quarterly NCREIF Timberland Index.

Earlier this week, NCREIF reported 0.70 percent in second quarter returns for US timber markets.