Potlatch eyes acquisitions boost with new hire

The real estate investment trust has hired Mark Bice from global timberland manager BTG Pactual Timberland to focus on acquisitions in southern US.

Potlatch Corp, the US timberland real estate investment investment trust (REIT), has hired Mark Bice as real estate and acquisitions manager. He will start on March 2 and will be responsible for timberland acquisitions and small parcel sales for the company in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, a new role for Potlatch.

The hire comes at a time when the REIT is on the hunt for acquisitions in the southeast US as the housing market continues to pick up. “Incremental volume to meet housing growth will mostly come from southern timber markets,” reads the press release.

“Timberland acquisition in the US Southeast is a key part of our growth strategy, especially where opportunities exist to ‘bolt on’ to our recent Alabama and Mississippi acquisitions,” said Mike Covey, chairman and chief executive officer. In December, the REIT acquired 100,000 acres of forest in Alabama and 101,000 acres in Mississippi from Resource Management Service, another timberland investment management firm.

Bice joins from BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group, the global timberland manager, and is an industry veteran with over 30 years of timberland transaction experience; he has helped close over $1 billion of deals, according to the press release.

Potlatch started the recruitment process shortly after the closing that transaction, said Mark Benson, a spokesperson for the REIT. “This new position will continue our effort to secure new properties in the South,” he told Agri Investor.

Potlatch reported a fall in earnings during the fourth quarter of last year. Net income dropped by 39.5 percent to $20.1 million from $33.2 million in the third quarter. Net income for the full year of 2014 was $89.9 million, up from $70.6 million in 2013.

Potlatch shares were trading at $39.94 when Agri Investor went to press on Monday, down 5.3 percent since the start of the year.

Headquartered in Washington State, Potlatch has around 1.6 million acres of timberland under management across Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota and Mississippi.