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New Forests pulls trigger on Gunn’s forestry asset sale

The acquisition of this north-western Tasmanian plantation by July will take New Forests’ total estate up to half a million hectares.

Australia-based fund manager New Forests has bought 175,000 hectares of north-western Tasmanian land and forestry assets from Gunns Limited for an undisclosed amount, according to a statement.

The sale comes as part of a wider sell-off of Gunns Limited, which was placed into receivership on September 2012.

A new as-yet unnamed management company will be created to handle the 175,000 hectare asset, using existing Gunn forestry staff, taking on future rights and obligations under existing contracts.

The forest consists of Eucalyptus nitens with smaller amounts of Eucalyptus globulus and Pinus radiata.

Within the sale are approximately 100,000 hectares of timber plantations; two woodchip mills; the Somerset nursery; and a timber fibre technology laboratory at Ridgley.

New Forests stated that the transaction does not include the permits or land associated with the Tamar Valley pulp mill project.

New Forests’ chief executive David Brand said Tasmanian forestry investments were still a priority, despite the high exchange rate on the Australian dollar.

“We believe that the industry is now recovering and has a bright future,” said Brand. “We also want to be part of the consensus around sustainable forestry, and will seek third party certification of all our operations.”

New Forests said the acquisition would bring its forestry estate to more than 500,000 hectares of plantation land and trees in Australia.

The firm is headquartered in Sydney with offices in Singapore and San Francisco, and according to its website currently manages more than AU$2.3 billion in funds and assets, and over 450,000 hectares of land and forests in Australia, the United States and Asia.

Reporting by Brian Cantwell