Flight Timbers now under Timberlink umbrella
FLIGHT TIMBERS’ New Zealand sawmilling assets have been sold to Timberlink Australia. The agreement forms part of a larger transaction by Flight Group, including the sale of its Flight Forests plantation assets of approximately 4,200 hectares of freehold land and radiata pine softwood plantations, located in the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island, to New Forests. New Forests is a Sydney-based fund manager with more than $A2.5 billion in assets under management including more than 620,000 hectares of forests, rural land and conservation investments in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States, on behalf of institutional investors.
The change in ownership of Flight Timbers was expected to take effect on 1 September 2015. Completion of the purchase of Flight Forests was subject to approval by the Overseas Investment Office.
Flight Group is a diversified manufacturing business (www.flight. co.nz) with two key operational divisions, Flight Plastics Limited and Flight Timbers. Flight owns a mill and timber remanufacturing operation in Blenheim, in the South Island of New Zealand. Flight Group has performed a strategic review of its operations, and following this transition will focus investment on in its Plastics and Resort Contracts businesses.
Timberlink Australia, which was formed in February 2013 from the sale of Gunns Limited’s softwood sawmilling assets in Australia as a result of receivership, view the acquisition as a key step in their plans for future growth and diversification of the Timberlink business.
Timberlink Australia/ NZ Chief Executive Officer Ian Tyson, said: “Timberlink has been on a journey to ensure our future competitiveness and sustainability as a softwood manufacturing business in today’s global market. The Flight acquisition enables business diversification in terms of market, customers and products whilst leveraging from the company’s current capability and experience with radiata pine sawmilling and sales in Australia.
“The current Flight sawmill assets are sound and provide a strong base from which to improve and grow the business. Timberlink plans to undertake significant business investment, including additional capital expenditure in the order of NZ$10m over the coming two to three years. This will strongly position the business for an exciting and successful future.”
The sale announcement was good news for all involved. Both parties (Flight and Timberlink) are pleased that the change in ownership includes the ongoing employment of all Flight Timbers employees and contractors, based at the Blenheim mill.
The new entity will operate as Timberlink New Zealand, a subsidiary of Timberlink Australia, and the site’s current management team will remain in place. Romon Spiers will continue to be the site General Manager, reporting to Timberlink’s CEO, Ian Tyson.
The Flight brand will continue to be used for up to 12 months of operation. During this period the company will be developing plans to rebrand as Timberlink New Zealand, along with any other associated product brands if required. Mr Spiers said: “We believe that the business value that can be created through Flight Timbers and Timberlink Australia coming together will form a more compelling and even stronger offer to serve all current customers in the target markets and also help the new improved business to achieve its growth plans for the future. Key to this will be maintaining and growing the Timberlink business in all of its markets – New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South East Asia.”
David Brand, CEO of New Forests, said that, “New Forests has demonstrated that the model of aligning the plantation resource with the processing facility reduces risk and will steadily create value. The agreement to acquire Flight Forests and Timbers by New Forests and Timberlink respectively gives stakeholders an opportunity to gain exposure to a mature, well-managed plantation estate with access to domestic processing plant managed by Timberlink.”