New Forests hires ex-KPMG partner as MD for Asia

The timberland investment manager has hired Geoffrey Seeto as managing director of New Forests Asia to lead the expansion and consolidation of its Asian business.

New Forests, the timberland investment manager, is expanding its reach across Asia with the hire of Geoffrey Seeto as managing director for the company’s Asian business and leader of its Singapore-based investment team. This is a new role for New Forests.

Seeto joins from global accounting and advisory firm KPMG where he was partner, Asia Infrastructure Markets.

Seeto will be responsible for building out the $170 million Tropical Asia Forest Fund (TAFF), a south-east Asian sustainable timber plantations fund, through acquisitions and operational oversight. He will also be a member of the TAFF investment committed; the New Forests Executive Committee, which is responsible for business strategy and operations; and New Forests’ Asian Management Committee.

New Forests’ Singapore team includes seven investment professionals and was established in 2008 to manage TAFF, which closed in June 2013 and has made one acquisition so far with exclusivity on other deals in the region, Agri Investor learned.

“The appointment of Geoffrey Seeto to the new role of managing director of New Forests Asia reflects our company’s commitment to expanding our investment footprint in Asia,” said Sydney-based New Forests chief executive David Brand in a statement. “We are confident that Mr Seeto’s experience across private markets and infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia will support the investment of TAFF in a portfolio of high-quality timber plantation assets.”

Seeto brings over 20 years of private markets investment experience in infrastructure and Asian private equity in particular.

“The investments New Forests is making today are among the first of their kind in this region. I’m pleased to be joining a company with a strong forward-looking vision of how private capital can finance a transition for the region’s forest resources to high-quality, responsible plantation management,” he said in a statement.

New Forests has $2.4 billion of assets under management across four funds including the Australia and New Zealand Forest Fund, which closed on A$707 million in March 2014 and $36 million invested into forestry carbon and mitigation banking projects in the US.