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Biotechnology Venture Eyes New Horizons


Biotechnology Venture Eyes New Horizons

Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) and Rubicon today announced the merging of their existing forestry biotechnology and propagation operations into a new venture - Horizon2. Horizon2 brings together New Zealand’s two leading forestry nursery and biotechnology programmes - CHH Forest Genetics and Rubicon’s Trees & Technology.

Through Horizon2, New Zealand and Australian forest owners will have access to world-class genetics and plant propagation technologies.

“With the forestry industry becoming increasingly fragmented there are some areas where capability consolidation is imperative to maintain and develop international competitiveness,” says Devon McLean, CHH Chief Operating Officer. “This exciting ‘industry-first’ partnership will lead the development of superior radiata pine tree stocks internationally.”

“Both Rubicon’s Trees & Technology and CHH’s Forest Genetics businesses have been pioneers in biotechnology techniques to improve growth rates and wood quality. Bringing these two businesses together now will allow the development of one integrated programme, which will bring with it all of the advantages that come from the pooling of scientific knowledge, people resource, and funding,” says Rubicon CEO Luke Moriarty.

The creation of Horizon2 will accelerate the availability of improved tree stocks and improve the value of customers’ forests through their planting of superior quality tree stocks that better match the needs of their end-user.

Horizon2 will offer customers all the traditional benefits of treestock supply through industry-best nursery techniques. As well, the combined resources and expertise of the two programmes will enable Horizon2 to offer an expanded range of treestock products and services to its customers – assisting decision making about where and what to plant, whether it be for structural, appearance, or engineered wood end uses.

Horizon2 will be structured as a 50:50 partnership, headquartered at Te Teko in the Bay of Plenty, and led by Chief Executive Andrew Rodwell (currently the General Manager of Trees & Technology). It will operate New Zealand nursery facilities in Kaikohe, Rotorua, Tokoroa, Te Teko and Nelson, and a nursery facility in Australia. Future plans include a market presence in Chile.

“Combining the talents of two world class forestry biotechnology businesses is very exciting, not just for the owners, but for the forestry industry customers who will benefit from Horizon2’s enhanced ability to add value to forests through the application of leading edge technologies,” says Horizon2 Chief Executive Andrew Rodwell.

HORIZON2 BACKGROUND LOCATION .

Headquartered in Te Teko, 20km from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. . Nursery facilities in New Zealand at Kaikohe, Rotorua, Tokoroa, Te Teko and Nelson, and in Australia at Colac (Victoria).

. Greenhouse facilities in Rotorua and Te Teko and seed orchards in Awatere, the Wairau Valley and Te Teko for the production of elite pedigree Radiata seed stock. . Principal research facilities in Te Teko, including PC2 laboratories and Level 3 quarantine bio-facilities.

TECHNOLOGY

The merger will bring together the two principal clonal propagation technologies of organogenesis and somatic embryogenesis.

. Organogenesis (tissue culture) is the practice of propagating identical copies (clones) of an individual plantlet by excising tiny pieces of tissue in vitro and, using specific media, encouraging each to form a genetically identical plant.

. Somatic embryogenesis involves propagating multiple embryos from the embryogenic tissue proliferated from a single seed. One of the key benefits of the merger will be to combine these two technologies, which will lead to a much more efficient and effective programme.

BUSINESS .

Largest commercial scale producer of clonal conifers in the Southern Hemisphere.

. In its first year Horizon2 projects sales of 19 million treestocks, of which 90% are Radiata. Of this, 2.7 million trees (nearly 16%) will be clonal. Horizon2 will produce nearly 2 million treestocks of other species—mainly Douglas fir and Eucalyptus.

. Horizon2 has a Research Contract with US based forestry biotechnology company ArborGen. Horizon2 is currently providing services to ArborGen to help improve the pulping characteristics of Eucalypts destined for the Brazilian market.

. Horizon2 has several thousand individual Radiata genotypes in trials across New Zealand, Australia and Chile that will constitute the future clonal product portfolio.

. Horizon2 has a number of long term strategic relationship agreements including an agreement with Carter Holt Harvey Forests.

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