Asian firms buy up forestry land

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 12/11/2012
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More than 4000 hectares of Marlborough land has been sold during the past two months as Asian timber processors move to secure log supplies.

Information from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), the government agency that oversees the sale of land to foreigners, shows that a South Korean-owned company bought almost 2900ha of forestry land in August and a Malaysian-owned company bought almost 1400ha of land in September to plant in trees.

Marlborough forest industry sources said there was a lot of interest in forests as companies wanted to ensure log supplies. Asian companies were particularly concerned about it.

Bayleys agent Glenn Dick confirmed that view, saying there had been a lot of interest from offshore buyers for mature forestry blocks, mainly because they were looking to secure log supply.

These were particularly from Asian companies with links to processing plants.

He described the level of interest as "relatively strong". It was for large mature forestry blocks, not small 20-30ha blocks.

During the past two months, the OIO has approved two purchases of land in Marlborough for forestry.

Information from the office shows that SCFNZ Ltd, owned 100 per cent by South Korean company Sunchang Corporation, had been given consent to buy 2894.88ha of forest at Northbank, near Blenheim.

The price was confidential.

The office summary decision said the company made plywood, fibreboard and lumber for commercial and industrial purposes.

"The overseas investment will allow Sunchang to secure a portion of its demand for logs from its own forests and therefore control the quality of those logs."

The other decision approved Timbergrow Ltd, owned by members of the Malaysian-based Tiong family, to buy 1330.99ha of Waihopai land to plant in trees.

Timbergrow lawyer Deirdre Norris confirmed the Tiong family had other forestry land in Marlborough and Timbergrow was a related company to Earnslaw One, another forestry company owned by the Tiong family.

She said timber grown in the Waihopai Valley was better suited to processing at Nelson Pine's laminated veneer lumber plant. Half of the wood grown at the Waihopai site would go there for processing. The other half would be exported as logs out of Picton.

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- The Marlborough Express

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