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New owner for HFF

East Coast-based forestry business Hikurangi Forest Farms will have a new owner if the sale is approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

Australian-based international New Forests has agreed to acquire Hikurangi Forest Farms (HFF) on behalf of its investment clients.

New Forests anticipates that the purchase, from current owner Samling Group, will be complete by mid-2019, subject to consent from the Overseas Investment Office, with the intention to launch a rebranded business at that time.

HFF is one of the largest forestry estates in the Gisborne region and includes around 25,000 hectares of radiata pine plantation on 35,000 hectares of freehold, forest rights, and leasehold land.

New Forests is working through an ownership transition plan incorporating continuity of operations and New Forests’ forward-looking management plans, and will be undertaking engagement with key stakeholders, including local businesses, tangata whenua representatives, Gisborne District Council and community groups.

New Forests’ objective is to manage investments to ensure long-term sustainability.

“New Forests looks forward to engaging with stakeholders during the ownership transition to chart the future for this business and ensure the long-term sustainability of this regionally significant forestry asset,” New Forests’ chief executive David Brand said.

“The HFF acquisition secures a cornerstone asset for New Forests’ Australia New Zealand Forest Fund 3, complementing the fund’s existing New Zealand forestry portfolio in the North and South Island”.

Managing director of New Forests Australia-New Zealand business Mark Rogers said the company was proud of its track record and commitment to sustainable forest management.

“And this estate has significant potential to be a preferred provider of sustainable wood products.

“New Forests and our clients represent long-term, stable, institutional ownership that we believe will be a key enabler for the future growth of New Zealand’s forest industry,” said Mr Rogers.

HFF general manager Ian Brown said Samling Group confirmed it had entered into an agreement to sell Hikurangi Forest Farms to New Forests.

Samling bought Hikurangi in 1997 and has made a substantial investment to establish it as one of the largest forestry estates in the region, which is today a significant contributor to the Gisborne economy, he said.

TREES VERSUS PASTURE: A report commissioned by Beef and Lamb NZ says large-scale conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry would cost lost jobs. File picture