Two pension funds acquire NZ forestry asset

October 4, 2021
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Two European pension funds, APG Asset Management (APG) on behalf of its Dutch pension fund client ABP, and UK’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF), have agreed to purchase Sinotrans New Zealand Limited’s (Sinotrans NZ) shareholding in Wenita Forest Products Limited (Wenita).

Wenita is the largest producer of timber in Otago, New Zealand, across almost 30,000 hectares of sustainably managed forests. With a history spanning three decades, Wenita is widely recognised as one of the premier softwood plantation assets in New Zealand.

Under the agreement, the two investors will acquire the 62% share from Sinotrans NZ. A New Forests-managed fund, the Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 2 (ANZFF2), has owned the other 38% shareholding since 2018. The agreement will bring total ownership of Wenita under New Forests’ management.

Mark Rogers, Senior Managing Director, Australia, New Zealand and US, at New Forests said: “Wenita is a well-managed, mature asset of scale with strong cash flows, and in a region with domestic distribution and access to export markets. New Forests’ continued involvement with Wenita’s management team will help identify new ways to add value to the business including implementation of our sustainable landscape investment approach. Having the support of investment partners, who have invested with us for many years, means our interests are strongly aligned.”

Hans-Martin Aerts, Head of Infrastructure & Natural Resources at APG Asset Management Asia, said: “We are pleased to partner with PPF and New Forests to acquire a controlling interest in Wenita. This investment is a great fit with our sustainability strategy and will contribute to ABP’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Wenita is a large-scale sustainably managed forest company with all its plantations being certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). We look forward to working with our partners to ensure a long-term, stable and sustainable investment return for our clients.”

Lea Dubourg-Hrachovec, Head of Infrastructure, Timberland and Farmland at the Pension Protection Fund said: “Wenita is the fourth addition to our growing program of direct investments into sustainable, FSC certified forestry assets globally. What attracted us to Wenita is its long-established operational track record, mature, high quality forest portfolio with a close proximity to the deep-sea port of Chalmers, which makes it a very highly prized forestry asset in New Zealand. We believe Wenita has a great long-term potential and we’re very excited to be part of its future alongside our partners APG and New Forests.”

There will be no significant changes to Wenita’s employees following the acquisition. All commercial terms are confidential.