New Forests’ third Australia-New Zealand fund hits 50% deployment with NZ forestry purchase

The firm acquired Hikurangi Forest Farms for an undisclosed sum, describing it as a ‘cornerstone asset’ for the fund.

New Forests has purchased Hikurangi Forest Farms, based in Gisborne, New Zealand, through its Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 3.

The firm declined to disclose the purchase price but a spokeswoman for New Forests said the acquisition meant that ANZFF3 has now reached approximately 50 percent deployment.

ANZFF3 closed on A$873 million last year around the same time that its second fund, ANZFF2, completed deployment of its A$707 million of capital.

New Forests chief executive David Brand described Hikurangi Forest Farms as a “cornerstone asset” for the third fund, with the purchase from current owner Samling Group set to complete by “mid-2019,” subject to approval from New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office. New Forests said that its intention is to launch a rebranded business at that time.

Hikurangi includes around 25,000 hectares of radiata pine plantation on approximately 35,000 hectares of freehold land, forest rights and leasehold land. New Forests described it as a “high-yielding and sustainable forest estate that is a significant contributor to the regional economy” and that it has received “significant investment” since it was acquired in 1997.

Brand said in a statement: “New Forests looks forward to engaging with stakeholders during the ownership transition to chart the future for this business and ensure the long-term sustainability of this regionally-significant forestry asset.

“The HFF acquisition secures a cornerstone asset for ANZFF3, complementing the fund’s existing New Zealand forestry portfolio in the North and South Island.”

A spokeswoman declined to comment on future acquisitions for ANZFF3, other than to say: “There is a strong pipeline of timberland sales in Australia and New Zealand which we are actively engaged in.”

New Forests and its subsidiaries manage investments in approximately 550,000 hectares of forests and timberland across a global portfolio of 1 million hectares of forestry and conservation investments. Its assets under management stand at approximately A$5 billion.