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Elworthy-managed fund spends $2M on Gisborne land

Elworthy-managed fund spends $2M on Gisborne land, emerges with 9,200ha of forestry

By Paul McBeth

July 31 (BusinessDesk) - Craigmore Forestry Fund, which is managed by Forbes Elworthy's Craigmore Sustainables, paid $2 million for 511 hectares land it wants to convert into forestry, as it looks to build plantations down the east coast of the North Island.

The fund has built up 9,200 hectares of land running from the East Cape to Riversdale, where it plans to either manage existing forestry operations or plant trees on farming land, according to summary decisions from the Overseas Investment Office.

Some 8,700 hectares came from related party Craigmore Farming Co for an undisclosed amount, while the remainder was bought out of the liquidation of sheep and beef farm Makiri Station, according to documents lodged with the Companies Office.

Sales of forestry land through real estate agents went for an average $4,121 per hectare last month, down from $7,762 per hectare, according to figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

The fund needed OIO approval as only 40 percent of its investors are New Zealanders, with the remainder made up of British, Americans, Dutch and other foreigners.

Craigmore Sustainables manages $70 million of investor capital across 10,000 hectares of farming and forestry, according to its website. That includes the Elworthy family farm in South Canterbury, Craigmore Station, which has grown to about 4,000 hectares since Forbes Elworthy inherited it in 2003.

The farming fund focuses on sustainable, grass-fed systems, and aims to reflect New Zealand's export mix of between 40 percent to 60 percent in dairy, 20 percent to 40 percent in beef, sheep and deer, and 10 percent to 20 percent in horticulture.

Last year, the forestry assets amounted to about 3,500 hectares, and Craigmore was eyeing up a further 4,000 to 5,000 hectares in 2012, according to a submission on the government's Emissions Trading Scheme.

At the time, it submitted the ETS was a "major contributor" to its investment decisions, in tandem with potential timber revenues.

Elworthy previously worked at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch before founding financial software firm Credit Market Analysis, which he later sold to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2008.

The Elworthy family has deep ties in Timaru, and the late Peter Elworthy was a past-President of Federated Farmers and chairman of the Reserve Bank's independent board.


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