New Forests bought by Japanese firms Mitsui and Nomura

New Forests founder and CEO David Brand will remain with the firm until June 2025 and will focus on strategic initiatives and growth opportunities.

Timberland asset manager New Forests has been acquired by Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co and financial services group Nomura.

The two Japanese investors will together hold a majority stake in the Sydney-headquartered asset manager, with Mitsui increasing its shareholding from its current level of approximately 23 percent to 49 percent and Nomura controlling a 41 percent stake. New Forests staff will retain the remaining 10 percent.

Mitsui acquired its existing shareholding in 2016 and launched a A$50 million ($35 million; €33 million) carbon offset fund with New Forests in 2021. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

As part of the deal, New Forests CEO and chairman David Brand will continue with the business that he founded in 2005 until June 30, 2025, focusing on strategic initiatives and growth opportunities.

Mitsui and Nomura will each provide two representatives to join the New Forests board, along with two independent directors and an employee nominee director.

In a joint statement, the companies said that Mitsui and Nomura shared New Forests’ commitment to sustainability and vision of the role that investing in sustainable land use and forestry can play in addressing climate change and conserving nature.

Yoshihiro Namura, senior managing director and head of the investment management division at Nomura, said: “We have been impressed with New Forests’ leadership and track record in sustainable forestry and land use and see New Forests’ approach to climate change being complementary to Nomura’s business. As a large global financial services group, we play a significant role in helping to solve environmental challenges, and we see investment in sustainable land use and forestry as a key part of the solution.”

Brand added: “New Forests has achieved a great deal over the past 17 years, growing institutional investment in the forestry asset class and reimagining the investment opportunities in rural landscapes. The rising need to substantially increase investment in sustainable land use, along with increasing investor interest is creating an opportunity to accelerate the growth of New Forests.

“I am delighted to have found two partners in Mitsui and Nomura who share in our vision and will provide us the support to further scale our business and provide new opportunities for our clients, stakeholders and our 100 staff.”

New Forests has A$7.8 billion in assets under management across 11 million ha of investments in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Africa and the US.

Last year. the firm partnered with a trio of European investors to launch an investment fund focused on sustainable forestry in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time.

This added to its funds focused on Southeast Asia: Tropical Asia Forest Fund, which closed on A$170 million in 2012, and Tropical Asia Forest Fund 2, which reached a first close of A$120 million earlier this year.

It also manages three vehicles in its ANZFF series: the first Australia New Zealand Forest Fund, which closed on A$490 million in October 2010 and was converted into a semi-permanent vehicle in 2020; Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 2, which closed on A$707 million in 2014; and Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 3, which closed on A$873 million in 2018.

Also in 2021, New Forests partnered with Alberta Investment Management Corporation on one of the largest Australian farmland transactions in recent years, purchasing the Lawson Grains cropping portfolio from Macquarie Asset Management.