Receiver to focus on selling pulp mill

THE receiver for former Tasmanian timber giant Gunns will now focus on the sale of the proposed Bell Bay pulp mill project after the sale of the company's remaining timber products assets.

Receiver KordaMentha's Mark Korda said yesterday that Sydney-based New Forests company had signed off on the purchase of all Gunns Timber Products, including its Bell Bay sawmill in Tasmania, and the Tarpeena Mill in South Australia.

The sale is expected to be finalised late next month.

New Forests managing director David Brand confirmed the continued employment and entitlements for more than 380 staff, including 150 at the Bell Bay mill and that the business would be managed locally.

A KordaMentha spokesman said that the receiver, appointed by Gunns' main lending institutions, would now move focus to the pulp mill.

``We will be working out the best way now to sell it,'' he said.

New Forests manages investments in sustainable forestry and associated environmental markets for institutional and other qualified wholesale investors.

It has timber, land and forestry investments in the Asia-Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand, and conservation real estate and environmental markets investment in the US.

It manages more than $1.25 billion in assets and more than 400,000 hectares of land.

Bass Greens MHA Kim Booth welcomed the sale, saying that it was great news for Christmas with the sales contract providing continued employment and entitlements for former Gunns staff.

Mr Korda said that the sale process of the Gunns timber assets had attracted dozens of expressions of interest from Australia and overseas with seven final bidders.

Mr Brand said that the Gunns Bell Bay and Tarpeena saw mills were key elements in Australia's regional forest industries.

``Over the past year, we have acquired softwood plantations in Tasmania and in the Green Triangle which provide the core wood supply to each mill - we can now aim to create value by integrating management of the forests with the mills and with sales and distribution functions,'' he said.


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