Super Fund sells forestry blocks to Chinese, local investors

A subsidiary of state-owned China Forestry Group Corp has bought the majority of the portfolio | Cullen Fund value tops $22 billion

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund, which today said the value of its portfolio topped $22 billion, has sold the bulk of 11 forestry blocks in the North Island to China National Forest Products Trading Corp for an undisclosed sum, with the remaining going to local investors.

The Chinese company, a subsidiary of state-owned China Forestry Group Corp, bought the majority of the portfolio, subject to Chinese regulatory approval, after getting the thumbs up from New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office, the super fund says in a statement.

The Cullen Fund, so-called for its architect former finance minister Michael Cullen, was looking for a buyer for the blocks last year, when it valued the estates at some $91.1 million as at June 30.

General manager investments Matt Whineray says the sale willlet the fund focus on other domestic and international investment opportunities.

"We see more attractive investment opportunities for our purposes elsewhere. We are always working to ensure we have the best possible mix of investments in the fund."

The Cullen Fund recently upped its stake in the Kaingaroa Forest, which is still the fund's single biggest asset, worth $945.1 million at March 31, and recently bought a $140 million stake in local IT company Datacom and 11 local dairy farms.

It is currently mulling whether to sell down its stake in service station chain Z Energy, which it co-owns with Infratil, with a potential listing in the third quarter. The fund valued its stake in Z at $523.9 million at December  31.

The Super Fund's timber assets, which accounted for 6 percent of the fund at March 31, will still exceed $1 billion after the sale.

(BusinessDesk)

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