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Brookfield Infrastructure Reports Year-End 2012 Results; timber income down; $85 million deal completed

Brookfield Infrastructure Reports Year-End 2012 Results; timber income down; $85 million deal completed | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Brookfield Infrastructure posted solid results for the year ended December 31, 2012 with funds from operations ("FFO") totalling $462 million ($2.41 per unit) compared to FFO of $392 million ($2.41 per unit) in 2011. This 18% increase in year-over-year FFO was primarily driven by significant expansion projects that were successfully commissioned during the year and to a lesser extent, new investments. FFO per unit of $2.41 was flat compared to the prior year as investments made with proceeds from recent equity offerings did not fully contribute to cash flows during the year. Brookfield Infrastructure's payout ratio was 62%, which is well within its target range of 60%-70%, and it earned a solid AFFO yield of 10%.

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Brookfield Infrastructure's timber platform reported FFO of $22 million in 2012, compared to $33 million in the prior year. Results reflect soft demand from Asia early in the year, which caused average realized prices to decline by more than 7%, combined with operational restrictions due to a prolonged fire season that impacted its harvest in the second half of the year. For the year, exports represented 41% of total log sales, which was down from 47% in the prior year as demand in the domestic markets strengthened with early stages of recovery in the U.S. housing market.

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In December, Brookfield Infrastructure completed the sale of a 12.5% interest in its Canadian timberlands to an institutional investor for approximately $85 million, which is equivalent to its IFRS book value.

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Sponsored by...

Sponsored by... | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Prentiss & Carlisle  is one of the largest timberland asset managers in North America. P&C provides ongoing management services on approximately 1.75 million acres of timberland located in Maine, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin, Ontario and Quebec. Nearly every acre under management is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council through either our clients or through P&C itself, which holds FSC certificates for both Forest Management and Chain-of-Custody.


P&C provides turnkey land management from long-range forest planning through on-ground forestry, marketing of forest products, harvesting, transportation, road construction and maintenance, stump-to-mill accounting and reporting, client cash management, administration of third-party relationships, public advocacy/representation and strategic asset planning. P&C also provides specialized consulting services in related areas of expertise:

  • Timber inventory design, execution and analysis
  • G&Y modeling and timber harvest scheduling
  • GIS mapping and data management services
  • Timberland valuations and appraisals
  • Acquisition and disposition due diligence
  • Market studies
  • Timber supply modeling


About this magazine

Our aim is to provide a gathering place for news and opinion about timberland investing. We cover both publicly traded issues including listed timber companies, real estate investment trusts (REIT's), and exchange traded funds (ETF's), and the more private world of institutional investing in timberland. Our focus is on: the rationale for investing in timberland; performance of publicly traded timber investments; timberland deals and transactions; timber supply, demand and prices, and; public policy issues that impact timberland investing. Not interested in all of these topics? You can easily filter the stories by using the Tags button above.


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Stock quotes, news and financial metrics

These links take you to customized Google Finance pages for timber REITS, indexes and other publicly traded companies of interest:


Prentiss & Carlisle newsletters

Quarterly updates on conditions in our operating regions


Timber Mart North 

Lake States price reporting service published by P&C


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IRS moves to raise tax rate on private equity management fees

IRS moves to raise tax rate on private equity management fees | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Private equity firms will no longer be able to convert income from management fees into capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate, under a proposed rule by the IRS published in the Federal Register Thursday.

The change, which clarifies existing regulations, could be enforced now, but the IRS is accepting public comment until Oct. 21.

The IRS put disguised payment practices at partnerships on their regulatory agenda in 2013. “They are going to take a pretty tough line,” said Steven Rosenthal, a tax lawyer and visiting fellow at the Tax Policy Center in Washington, in an interview. “I think it’s important to give this industry clear guidance.”

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Harvard Exits Romanian Timber Woes, Selling Forests to Ikea

Harvard Exits Romanian Timber Woes, Selling Forests to Ikea | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Harvard University’s endowment arm sold 33,600 acres of forest to Ikea Group, exiting a foray into Romanian timberland.
Harvard Management Co.’s strategy of investing in overseas forestry went awry in Romania, where an agent it hired was convicted of bribery and money laundering in June last year. Prosecutors said the agent arranged with sellers to inflate prices that Harvard-owned Scolopax Srl paid for timberland in exchange for $1 million in cash. He denied committing any crime.
“It highlights the outsize risk of going into these frontier markets,” said Joshua Humphreys, president of the Croatan Institute, a social and environmental research group in Durham, North Carolina.
Paul Andrew, a spokesman for Harvard, declined to comment.
Scolopax put the land up for sale in late 2013, asking for about 383 million lei, which was then equal to about $116 million. A spokesman for Ikea declined to say how much it paid for the land.
The purchase makes Ikea the biggest private forestry owner in Romania and gives it a local source of wood for manufacturing.
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Timberland REITs Standing Tall

Timberland REITs Standing Tall | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
SECTOR STATS

Sector: Timberlands

Constituents: 5

1-Year Return: –1.08

3-Year Return: 13.26

Dividend Yield: 3.81

Market Cap ($M): 29,439.4

Avg. Daily Volume (shares): 1,352.8

(Data as of May 29, 2015) Source: FTSE NAREIT U.S. Equity Timber REIT Index.



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Real estate investors warming to secondary market

Real estate investors warming to secondary market | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The secondary market for real estate investments, which grew 30% in 2014 after years of being nearly dormant, is poised to grow 45% this year to up to $7 billion, observers say.


With several $1 billion or larger portfolios of limited partnership interests in real estate funds for sale — including CalPERS' plans to sell up to $3 billion of its real estate portfolio — the market appears ready for prime time.

Based on completed transactions, the market grew 30% to $4.8 billion in 2014 from the prior year. That compares with $2 billion in completed deals in 2011, according to data from Landmark Partners, an alternative investments manager that specializes in investments on the secondary market. Landmark predicts “record growth” in 2015, to the $6 billion to $7 billion range.


“Large institutional investors have recently become increasingly more comfortable in utilizing the real estate secondary market as a portfolio management tool,” said Jamie Sunday, partner in the real estate group in Landmark's Boston office.

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Greater Manchester, AP2 invest in new timberland company

Greater Manchester, AP2 invest in new timberland company | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) and Swedish buffer fund AP2 are among investors committing to Global Timber Resources LLC (GTR), a new company designed to invest in timberland assets across different regions, including North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Both pension funds have each committed $50m (€45.2m).

GTR has been launched by TIAA-CREF, a US-based financial services provider specialising in the educational, medical and cultural sectors, and its subsidiary Greenwood Resources, a global timber management company.

It closed its fundraising with commitments of $667m, with other investors including Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (Caisse) and the TIAA General Account.
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This Fund Sees The Trees--And The Forest

This Fund Sees The Trees--And The Forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
How do you profitably invest in a sustainably harvested forest while directing efforts toward clean water protection, flood control, habitat for fish and wildlife, soil building and carbon storage?

Industrial timberland is managed solely for the wood in the trees, but Ecotrust Forest Management, based in Portland, Ore., invests by putting its focus on entire forest ecosystems. It's creating markets around forest diversity by selectively harvesting trees rather than clear-cutting, and also selling everything from carbon credits and development rights to edibles such as honey or salal for floral bouquets.

This diversified approach to managing a forest renders the land more resilient, both ecologically and economically, said Ecotrust CEO Bettina von Hagen.

Since its inception in late 2004, Ecotrust Forest Fund I, with $30 million under management, had average gross returns per year through December 2012 of 10.6 percent compared to 8.17 percent during the same timeframe for the NCREIF Timberland Index. It won't update returns because it will be reopening the fund to investors in the next three to six months. The fee is 1.25 percent.

Ecotrust has raised $60 million for a second fund, which closed in December. It currently has 30,000 acres under management.
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Jack D Bridges's curator insight, July 16, 12:23 PM

Consider a very mature, highly efficient market, within an established asset class. As time passes, the number of actors / investors grows, amid very positive secular trends which have helped lift returns over a long time-frame. 


Within this framework, all things being equal, one can expect lower future returns, as more investors crowd into the marketplace and compete for assets. 


So, how does one compete and deliver superior risk-adjusted returns in such environment? One way is to focus on a particular niche, and devote resources to developing new revenue streams--and this is exactly what EFM does as well as anyone. 


I'm not sure who Ecotrust hired as their CIO, but knowing a few people there, it is an unquestionably talented & ethical team. I wish EFM II the best of luck as they re-open the fund to investors...


JDB


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Lake States Inventory Level Issues and their Causes

Lake States Inventory Level Issues and their Causes | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Mill inventory issues are nothing new in the Lake States. Forest2Market has been tracking fiber inventories and benchmarking prices in the Lake States for nearly three years. Over this time, the data shows that maintaining adequate system-wide inventories has been difficult across all species and products. As a result, price has increased significantly, making the Lake States the highest wood cost region in North America. The seasonality of wood supply in the region is the most significant factor mills take into consideration when planning for a consistent supply. While the specific inventory plan at each mill depends on a variety of other factors as well, the wood production system must not only generate a sufficient volume of supply, but the timing of the volume coming to market is also critical.
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These Are The Biggest Landowners Among America's Richest Families

These Are The Biggest Landowners Among America's Richest Families | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

On September 29, 2014, the Reed Family acquired 600,000 acres of prime timberland in South Central Oregon. It was one of the biggest land purchases since John Malone’s 2011 acquisition of one million acres in Maine and New Hampshire, making the Reed clan one the nation’s largest landowners.


With 1.4 million acres, the Reeds are the largest landowners on Forbes’ 2015 list of America’s Richest Families. While the Reeds have been accumulating acres since the late 1800s, feeding a growing lumber empire in the American Northwest, land is becoming increasingly valuable for the wealthiest investors in the country. Their 2014 purchase, made through the family-owned Green Diamond Resource Company, puts the Reeds atop a select group that has recognized the true potential of land, extracting value from its natural beauty, inherent scarcity, and underlying economic capacity.
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The market for productive land took a turn after the financial collapse of 2008, according to Joe Taggart of LandVest, a managing director focused on timberland with vast experience with high net worth investors. “Prior to the collapse, we saw undisciplined buyers,” Taggart explained. “Since then, investors recognize they need to look for underlying value in the land.”


Eric O’Keefe, editor of The Land Report, said that buyers are looking for unique properties much in the same way as they are investing in art, particularly at the high-end. “It’s like a Picasso,” he noted. Beyond its aesthetic beauty, massive tracts of land in key places have the potential to provide capital appreciation and steady cashflows, beyond just aesthetic value. “Land is actually generating income. It’s as if you were exhibiting your Picasso three times a year and making good money for it as well,” Taggart said.
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Ample liquidity and low returns in traditional conservative asset classes like bonds, including U.S. Treasuries, have pushed investors into land, Taggart believes. Using little debt, buyers are deploying capital at accessible prices to take advantage of guaranteed returns, the broker explained.

After the dot-com bubble and the collapse of the global financial system in 2008, more wealthy families have turned to hard assets to park their cash. From apartments in Manhattan, contemporary art, or a 1960s stock Ferrari, the world’s richest people have boosted the prices of all sorts of vanity goods. When it comes to land, prices haven’t gone haywire just yet. But, as wealth creation accelerates in the U.S. and across the globe, interest in such scarce resource will only increase, push and it’ll be just a matter of time until the next bubble brews.

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Rayonier Completes Two Timberland Acquisitions in the U.S. South and Pacific Northwest for $60 Million

Rayonier Completes Two Timberland Acquisitions in the U.S. South and        Pacific Northwest for $60 Million | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Rayonier Inc. RYN, -0.51% announced today the company has acquired approximately 18,000 acres of high-quality timberlands in southwest Louisiana and northwest Oregon in two separate transactions from BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group. Both properties are located near existing Rayonier landholdings:

The Louisiana property – known as the King parcel – consists of approximately 12,200 acres of high quality, well managed southern pine timberland located in strong timber markets. The property was purchased for $25.5 million. It contains merchantable inventory of approximately 560,000 tons, is comprised of approximately 86% plantable lands, and is expected to improve the company’s sustainable yield by approximately 45,000 tons per year. This acquisition expands Rayonier’s ownership in Louisiana to approximately 150,000 acres.
The Oregon property – known as the Scappoose parcel – consists of approximately 5,600 acres of highly productive, well-stocked and highly-operable timberland tributary to strong domestic and export markets in the northwest corner of the state, near current company holdings in southwest Washington. The property was purchased for $34 million. It complements the age-class profile of the company’s Pacific Northwest timber holdings, contains merchantable inventory of approximately 102,000 tons (12.7 MMBF) of which an estimated 95% is high-value Douglas-fir, is comprised of approximately 88% operable lands, and is expected to improve the company’s sustainable yield by approximately 35,000 tons (4.4 MMBF) per year. This acquisition expands Rayonier’s footprint into the state of Oregon and grows Rayonier’s total Pacific Northwest ownership to approximately 374,000 acres.
Sam Radcliffe's insight:

More than $2000 per acre in the South and more than $6000 per acre in the PNW. Or another way: $45.50 per ton of inventory in the South, $333 per ton in the PNW. Or another way: $566 per ton of increased allowable cut in the South, $971 per ton in the PNW.

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Chinese demand for US hardwood soars to 1.53b

Chinese demand for US hardwood soars to 1.53b | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The export value of United States hardwood to China jumped 34 percent year-on-year in 2014 as the country increased its demand for more sustainably sourced materials for its urbanization program and for environmental projects.
The value of US hardwood products sold into China reached $1.53 billion last year, according to data from the foreign agricultural service of the US Department of Agriculture.
The most popular timber was red oak, tulipwood and ash, mainly for furniture, veneers, flooring, and decorative plywoods. The market now accounts for 42.6 percent of total export volume of US hardwoods, by far the world’s largest single customer.
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Gary Glenn, CDPE's curator insight, June 29, 6:22 PM

US Trees go to China

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Alibaba’s Jack Ma Buys $23 Million Property in New York’s Adirondacks

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Buys $23 Million Property in New York’s Adirondacks | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire and co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has quietly made a new acquisition: a 28,100-acre property boasting trout streams, woodlands and a maple-syrup operation in New York’s Adirondacks. Mr. Ma paid $23 million for the sprawling upstate New York property, which he bought principally for conservation purposes, but also plans to use as an occasional personal retreat, according to a spokesman.


The estate, known as Brandon Park, includes more than 9 miles of the St. Regis River, as well as lakes, streams, ponds, forests and a 1940s log camp behind its gated entrance. There are two homes on the property, as well as lean-tos and a horse barn.

The land was originally part of neighboring Bay Pond, a private nature preserve created around the turn of the last century by William A. Rockefeller Jr., a co-founder of Standard Oil. In 1939, Brandon was acquired by the family of Wilhelmina du Pont Ross. The Ross family in 1999 transferred the property into Brandon LLC, according to public records. Brandon was first listed for sale in 2012 with an asking price of $28 million. In 2014 the asking price was lowered to $22.5 million.

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Plum Creek Timber's 2nd Quarter Earnings Call Transcript

Plum Creek Timber's 2nd Quarter Earnings Call Transcript | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

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Anthony Pettinari - Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. (Broker)
During the quarter, there was some discussion on CalPERS looking to trim its exposure to timberlands. And given Southern sawlog price recovery has been maybe a little bit disappointing relative to expectations at the beginning of the year for another year, are you seeing any kind of difference in institutional interest for timberlands or maybe the level of price for land, especially in the South? I was wondering if you could just kind of update us on what kind of level of interest you're seeing in the market and the transactions you're seeing?

Rick R. Holley - Chief Executive Officer & Director
Anthony, I think the level of interest from an institutional standpoint continue to be very high, whether it's in the Pacific Northwest or in the South for timberlands. I think most of the institutions, again, they're long-term owners. They're seeing as we are that there will be a recovery in the market, especially in the U.S. South, and we should see much higher prices in the future as we see the U.S. economy, housing and production levels recover to pre-recession level. So I think there's continued to be a high level of interest. I think CalPERS is going through their entire portfolio and try to trim costs and other things. We've been more than a bit disappointed in some of their timber investments of-late. And I think they've decided with those as they have with many different investments they've made that they're just going to exit. So I think their focus and maybe actions are quite different from what we see amongst any of the other institutions.
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Gail S. Glazerman - UBS Securities LLC
Okay. And just last question, trying to again touching on something asked earlier in terms of land available on the market. It's not really just CalPERS, there's the Foley land, Molpus land. I mean, do you feel like there is kind of an incremental supply of timberland on the market? Or are they just getting maybe a little bit more headlines than they normally would at this stage?

Rick R. Holley - Chief Executive Officer & Director
Well, the Foley land has been on the market for several months now and didn't appear to be a lot of activity. I think part of it has to do with the quality there, just not of interest to people. And the CalPERS land that they've had on the market is, have a little challenge because of a supply agreement and some other constraints. We just heard, as you did, about the Molpus bringing 50,000 acres in the Southern United States on the market. And I suspect, depending on the quality, that will get a lot of attention.

So you kind of see these 50,000 acre things in the market from time and again, and I think you're going to continue to see that. And a lot of it has to do with the timing of some of the investments these people made with the TIMOs and they're coming up for renewal. And it's just time to take them to market or maybe a client want some current yield or something and so they take some of these lands to market, and we see that all the time. So that's not unusual. And I think you'll continue to see that this year and next.
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Mark Wilde - BMO Capital Markets (United States)
Last question I had is just a bigger picture question. I mean, you guys are generating on the range of about $60 an acre in EBITDA on the Southern lands. Can that kind of number continue to support $2,000 an acre or $2,100 an acre just from a longer-term perspective?

David W. Lambert - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President
I think market participants are looking at not only the productivity of the lands and what they can produce, but what the expected pricing would be. I think if someone were to say, hey, we're going to get stuck at 1.1 million housing starts and Southern log prices aren't going to go up, I think that would impact valuations in the South. But I don't think anyone that's in this business is looking at that thinks that that's a realistic outcome and that's not the basis for the valuation.

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Timberland returns cut down in second quarter

Timberland returns cut down in second quarter | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The NCREIF Timberland index returned 0.51% in the second quarter, its lowest quarterly return since the first quarter of 2012. It was also the lowest second-quarter return since 2002.

The quarterly return was 57 basis points lower than the median second quarter return since the index's inception in 1987.

According to NCREIF, the appreciation return was -0.05% in the quarter.

Ryan Reddish, chair of the timberland committee and acquisitions analyst for Forest Investment Associates, commented in a news release that, “timberland returns were relatively flat this quarter. Seasonal downward movement in product prices led to reduced harvest activity, especially in the South and Northwest markets.”

The index consists of 451 investment‐grade timber properties with a market value of $24.3 billion. This includes 319 properties in the South, 83 in the Northwest, 28 in the Northeast, and 16 in the Lake States.
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Timber imports through Shanghai Port down 47% in H1/2015

Timber imports through Shanghai Port down 47% in H1/2015 | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
China’s Customs has reported that timber imports through Shanghai Port in the first half of 2015 amounted to 4.43 million cubic metres, a year on year decline of 47%.

Timber imports from North America, Africa and Russia, accounted for about 70% of total timber imports through Shanghai Port.

Timber imports from North America, Africa and Russia fell by more than 50%. On the other hand imports from Southeast Asia and South America were about the same level as in the same period in 2014

Imports from North America, Russia, Africa, South America and Southeast Asia were 1.31 million cubic metres, 1.04 million cubic metres, 0.88 million cubic metres, 0.46 million cubic metres and 0.14 million cubic metres respectively.
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From axes to iPads: new logging methods replace traditional ways

From axes to iPads: new logging methods replace traditional ways | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The days of the axe and the cross-cut saw are long gone. But if you don't work in the timber industry, you probably wouldn't know that, increasingly, a new breed of bushmen don't even use a chainsaw.

Logging in the native forests on the mid north coast of NSW is done in the air-conditioned comfort of a harvesting machine. It looks like a tracked excavator, with a large mechanical arm that locks on, cuts and even debarks the trees.

Fallers know exactly where they are, thanks to a GPS. There's also an iPad stuck by suction cup to the front window, loaded with an interactive map produced by a radar-like system that uses light instead of a radio wave.

It's called LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging. The light 'pulses' from the aerial pass of a plane produce a map that is so detailed you can see a big picture of the landscape at any scale ... the ridges and rivers, rocky outcrops and swamps. But you can also zoom in to identify individual trees that get marked on the map: an 'H' for a habitat or hollow bearing tree, 'R' for a recruitment tree, 'K' for koala habitat tree or 'E' for eucalypt feed trees, which provide a flowering resource over winter for arboreal mammals. After logging, at least six of these feed trees are kept across every two hectares.

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Is Asia-Pacific Timberland a Growth Sector?

Is Asia-Pacific Timberland a Growth Sector? | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Expansion within the asset class, the firm said, “is expected to come from emerging and intermediate forestry markets, such as those of Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.” Because of the risks—environmental, social, corporate governance and others—presented by some parts of Latin America and the developing economies in Asia and Africa, “emerging forestry markets must meet investor risk-adjusted returns that are as much as two to three times the returns sought for U.S. forestry investments.”


That said, TIMOs are looking for ways to expand, and many of them, “already well diversified within North America,” are looking outside the U.S. to do so. New Forests’ Tropical Asia Forest Fund, which closed in 2013, represents the firm’s expansion across the Asia-Pacific region. Campbell Global, which is U.S.-based, this year announced an expansion into new markets with a global fund that will invest in Latin America and Australasia. The report said that among the top 30 TIMOs globally, seven are operating in Asia and eight in Australia and New Zealand as they increasingly diversify into additional regions.

Transactions, meanwhile, have revealed downward pressure on discount rates on both softwood and hardwood assets in Australia and New Zealand. The report said that “there may be continued pressure on investors to keep discount rates low to secure assets” since “the New Zealand and Australia timberland market is now maturing with more active investment managers competing on deals.”

However, such a fate may not await investors, since “[i]t could also be argued that discount rates in Australia and New Zealand may converge with those in the U.S. market given the comparable political and business risk environment, higher tree growth rates, and exposure to the important Asian markets.”

Asia and Africa are on the “emerging edge of forestry investment,” according to the report. As yet there isn’t much institutional investment in forests in either region, and both have relatively high discount rates. In Indonesia and Malaysia, for example, the report said that real discount rates range from 9–15 percent. In addition, local forestry companies can have an advantage over foreign investors because of their access to lower discount rates or lower-cost debt financing.

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Calpers Misses Target With 2.4% Return in Past Fiscal Year

Calpers Misses Target With 2.4% Return in Past Fiscal Year | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest pension in the U.S., said it earned 2.4 percent last fiscal year, below its target rate as financial-market turbulence depressed stock and bond returns. The $300 billion fund earned 1 percent on public-equity holdings and 1.3 percent in fixed-income investments, said Ted Eliopoulos, chief investment officer. Real estate returned 13.5 percent, while private equity gained 8.9 percent.

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Calpers said it has earned 10.9 percent over a three-year period and 10.7 percent over five years. Its real-estate and private-equity returns lag by a quarter.
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Eliopoulos said Calpers is reviewing its $2.2 billion it has invested in forestland and timber after losing 0.3 percent in the fiscal year, more than 1,000 basis points below its benchmark. He called the loss a “rather dramatic underperformance.” Pensions invest in forestland to generate long-term, stable income and to hedge against inflation.

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House Passes Bill to Hasten Timber Projects in Forests

House Passes Bill to Hasten Timber Projects in Forests | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The House passed a bill Thursday designed to improve the health of national forests by scaling back the environmental reviews that go into some timbering projects and discouraging lawsuits that delay projects.

The goal is to speed up timber harvests and underbrush removal that the U.S. Forest Service deems necessary to improve the health of national forests, which are taking a hit from drought, density and infestation. Altogether, up to 40 percent of the entire national forest system is in need of treatment to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and disease.

The bill meets the Obama administration partway when it comes to treating some wildfires like other federal disasters when it comes to tapping federal funds, but doesn't go as far as the administration wanted and subsequently generated White House opposition.

As a result, it's unclear what progress the bill will make after clearing the House by a vote of 262-167.

House Republicans have long sought more aggressive tree removal from national forest lands. Past efforts required the government to increase the amount of timber offered for sale. This time, the focus was on reducing regulatory hurdles and lawsuits. Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California said the nation's forests have been consigned to a policy of benign neglect and are now dangerously overgrown.

"Excess timber comes out of the forest one way or the other," McClintock said. "It's either carried out or burned out."

Nineteen Democratic lawmakers, mostly from rural areas, supported the bill.
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Canadian lumber market is back on the beam

Canadian lumber market is back on the beam | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
A steady rebound in U.S. housing activity over the next two years will spell much better times for North American lumber producers and lessen their reliance on the big Chinese market, says Montreal-based institutional investment manager Addenda Capital Inc.

The lumber industry, with annual sales of $20 billion U.S., has become “surprisingly healthy” after facing a critical downturn after the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, says analyst Todd Kapala in a study released Friday. Addenda manages a total of $25 billion.

“Forest products are often associated with doom and gloom,” says Kapala, “That certainly is the case for newsprint and paper as they face the electronic media’s onset, but not for lumber.”
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Plum Creek sells 6,500 acres to conservation group

Plum Creek sells 6,500 acres to conservation group | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The Nature Conservancy in Maine has purchased more than 6,500 acres of diverse forestland, including old growth and sub-Alpine fir forest, southwest of Jackman.

The purchase from Plum Creek Timber Co. will allow the Nature Conservancy to expand its Leuthold Forest Preserve to more than 16,000 acres.

The property includes remote ponds and nearly 15 miles of streams that provide habitat for Eastern brook trout as well as waterfowl and wading birds.
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Tacoma’s Murray Pacific Corp. selling Lewis County timber lands to California forest giant

Tacoma’s Murray Pacific Corp. selling Lewis County timber lands to California forest giant | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
A family-owned Tacoma company that has owned and managed thousands of acres of timberland in Washington for more than a century is selling its Lewis County lands to an aggressive California wood products company.

The acquisition of Murray Pacific Corp.’s 54,000 acres of forested land is Sierra Pacific Industries’ latest foray into the timber business in Washington. The sale is expected to be consummated by the end of July.

“The sale marks the end of Murray Pacific’s 104-year history in the timber business, and ensures that the timberland it has carefully managed for many decades goes to new owners with similar values,” the Tacoma-based company said Friday in a news release.

Toby Murray, the firm’s chief executive officer, said the company and the family that owns it are not going away.

“We’ve been in the investment business for more than 25 years now. This sale will give us much more money to invest,” he said.
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Judge: Timberland value plummets after conservation easement

Judge: Timberland value plummets after conservation easement | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
More than 187,000 acres of forest in Minnesota fetches a lower price when you have to sell it all in one chunk.

That was the ruling this month of a Minnesota Tax Court judge who rejected the land appraisals from four Minnesota counties and delivered a victory to UPM Blandin, which owns the giant baby blue paper mill in Grand Rapids.

The judge ruled that Blandin’s forest — restricted by a conservation easement with the state — is worth about one-eighth the collective value quoted by the county’s assessors.

As a result, the tax base will decline in four counties; Itasca County, where most of the land is, will be hit hardest. The ruling also sets precedent for how swaths of forest in state conservation easements will be valued and taxed in the future.
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25th anniversary of spotted owl listing: fewer owls, less timber industry

25th anniversary of spotted owl listing: fewer owls, less timber industry | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The heated debate over whether to curtail the logging of old-growth forests to protect the northern spotted owl was at full throttle when the federal government declared the bird a threatened species June 22, 1990.

At the time, environmentalists worried that the federal plan would fall short of saving the spotted owl.

Timber interests worried that a wave of environmental rules would gut the Olympic Peninsula’s wood-products industry and devastate communities.

Twenty-five years later, the effects of the landmark decision can be seen in the reams of economic, industry and environmental data routinely gathered by state and federal governments. The outcomes are by turns expected, disheartening and surprising.

A quarter-century of state and federal data and studies show:

■   The number of spotted owls on the Olympic Peninsula declined an estimated 40 percent between 1992 and 2006. The federal study may be updated later this year.

■   Between 1988 and 2013, annual timber harvests by all public and private owners in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Mason counties plunged 64 percent to 753 million board feet.

■   Timber harvests on the Olympic Peninsula’s federal lands plummeted 96 percent to 10.8 million board feet during the same period.

In 1988, 13.2 percent of the region’s commercial timber came from federal lands. By 2013, the figure was 1.4 percent.

■   Private timber harvests on the Olympic Peninsula plunged 61 percent to 598 million board feet during the same period. Over that time, timber companies on the Peninsula supplied between 69 percent and 92 percent of commercial logs.

■   The number of wood-products mills in the Olympic Peninsula’s four counties sank 71 percent to 32 mills between 1988 and 2012.

The Olympic Peninsula’s diminished wood-products industry is the result of 25 years of trends, decisions and events, of which the listing of the spotted owl is one.
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