New Forests named as Gunns plantation buyer

Sydney-based fund manager New Forests has been announced as the buyer of 100,000 hectares of timber plantations previously owned by failed timber company Gunns Limited.

New Forests made the announcement this morning.

The transaction includes about 100,000 hectares of timber plantation, as well as two woodchip mills, the Somerset nursery, and a timber fibre technology laboratory at Ridgley.

The company said the agreement did not include the permits or land associated with the Tamar Valley pulp mill project.

The sale is due to be completed by June 30.

New Forests chief executive David Brand said that a new management company will be set up to manage the forestry portfolio and will employ existing Gunns forestry staff.

“We are enthusiastic about expanding our plantation forestry investment base in Tasmania,” Mr Brand said.

“We recognize that the industry has been through a difficult period with the high Australian dollar, failure of the MIS business model, and restructure of the hardwood woodchip markets in Asia.

"However, we believe that the industry is now recovering and has a bright future.

"As an investor we want to be a positive force in the community, create an environment of stability where local business can gain confidence, and look to opportunities for innovation and business development. We also want to be part of the consensus around sustainable forestry, and will seek third party certification of all our operations.”

More than 175,000 hectares of freehold land will be acquired in the agreement, with the plantation base - primarily concentrated around the North-West - mostly eucalyptus nitens.

The acquisition will bring New Forests’ forestry estate to more than 500,000 hectares of plantation land and 

trees in Australia as well as the Timberlink Australia Pty Ltd sawmilling, sales, and distribution business.

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