Aussies buy into Otago forestry
IN ADDITION TO BUYING INTO OTAGO’S LARGEST WOOD producer, an Australian company has also purchased the land beneath 22,500ha of forests in the region.
A subsidiary of New Forests Australia, ANZFF2 Fund, has been given approval by the Overseas Investment Office to buy the land from United States-based Rohatyn Group, along with taking a 38% stake in Wenita Forest Products, which owns the cutting and management rights to the trees on the sites.
Wenita Chief Executive, David Cormack, told the Otago Daily Times he expects few changes from the deals, for either Wenita’s 14 staff or more than 110 contractors it has involved in silviculture, harvesting, road building and transportation.
‘’It’s business as usual for us. We’re not expecting any major changes,’’ he says.
“The Wenita transaction is a milestone for our ANZFF series of forestry funds as we complete full investment of ANZFF2, securing significant scale in both target countries of Australia and New Zealand,” says Mark Rogers, Managing Director for New Forests’ Australia-New Zealand business.
“New Forests has been selective and disciplined in creating the ANZFF2 portfolio. The Wenita acquisition complements the fund’s hardwood and softwood plantation exposure in Australia and brings our New Zealand estate to more than 48,000 hectares in total.”
The OIO says in granting consent there would be an ‘’identifiable benefit’’ to New Zealand, as more trees would be pruned to improve wood quality and supply to local sawmillers would continue.
The Rohatyn Group has owned its Wenita shareholding since 2005, which it held in a joint venture with Chinese logistics company Sinotrans and took 100% ownership of the land in 2006.
Following the OIO consent on that deal, the Rohatyn Group has decided to put eight freehold forests up for sale elsewhere in the Otago region. The Clutha Forest Estate, as they are collectively known, consists of 3000ha of mainly Radiata Pine, along with some Douglas-fir and Macrocarpa.