NZ Super Fund trims stake in Kaingaroa Timberlands as six iwi buy 2.5%

New Zealand Superfund CEO Adrian Orr

New Zealand Superannuation Fund has sold 2.5 percent of Kaingaroa Timberlands to six central North Island iwi, giving the underlying landowners access to some of the profits generated from the nation's biggest forestry business.

Terms of the sale weren't disclosed. The transaction reduces NZ Super's holding in the forestry business to 38.75 percent from 41.25 percent. The remaining shareholders are Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board with 30 percent and a fund related to Harvard University on 28.75 percent.

Last year, NZ Super had put a value of $945.1 million on its Kaingaroa investment, which includes 190,000 hectares in the central North Island.

The iwi organisations - Ngati Rangitihi, Ngati Whakaue Assets and Te Arawa River Iwi Limited Partnership, Ngati Whare, Raukawa, Te Arawa Group Holdings and Tuwharetoa - have set up a vehicle called Kakano Investment Limited Partnership to buy the Kaingaroa stake.

They are among the eight iwi that make up the Central North Island Iwi Collective that received the Kaingaroa forestry land, accumulated rentals and other assets as part of their settlement with the Crown. Two chose not to invest - Ngai Tuhoe and Ngati Manawa.

Jon Stokes, a communications adviser for Kakano, said each iwi made its own investment decision. The reasons two decided against were complex though may include already having timber assets among their investments, he said.

Raukawa chair Vanessa Eparaima, who has been appointed chair of Kakano, said that because of the size and maturity of Kaingaroa Timberlands' forestry operations, they would generate immediate cash returns for Kakano.

Harvard beat out China's Citic to buy the Kaingaroa cutting rights from receivership in 2004. The price was not disclosed but was believed to be near US$650 million. The same forest was sold by the Crown in 1996 for $2.2 billion. NZ Super first acquired 20 percent in 2006, a further 10 percent in each of 2007 and 2008 and a final 2.5 percent in 2012.


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