Gresham House Plc (LON: GHE), the specialist alternative asset manager, today announces that Gresham House Asset Management has been appointed by AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets as the exclusive asset manager to a 4,074-hectare portfolio of mature Irish forests on a long term contract.
The appointment follows the acquisition of the Portfolio by AXA IM – Real Assets, acting on behalf of clients, from several Irish forestry funds managed by the forestry consultancy Veon Limited. Veon Limited is being retained to provide forestry management services.
The Portfolio, which is historically very large by UK and Irish standards, is divided across 185 estates throughout Ireland. Comprising one of Europe’s fastest growing wood types and the main and most valuable commercial conifer species in Ireland and the UK, it benefits from good local infrastructure and proximity to a number of saw mills.
GHAM is committed to a long-term investment strategy and financial commitment to the Portfolio, bringing stability and sustainability to these important assets which will aim to continue to provide commercial, social and environmental benefits to the Irish economy, and which mark Irish forestry’s transition into a large-scale commercial sector.
With an existing portfolio of real assets ranging from renewables, infrastructure and forestry, GHAM is the UK’s largest commercial forestry manager, harvesting circa 10% of the UK’s total softwood annually. Following this major appointment, it will manage over 129,000 hectares of forests on behalf of institutions, endowments, family offices and private investors.
Tony Dalwood, Chief Executive Officer of Gresham House plc, added: “The strategic rationale for this partnership, alongside the potential financial returns, are clear and exciting for Gresham House. As the UK’s largest private forestry investment manager, this Portfolio marks the first step in our ambition to develop a long-term international business platform, increasing assets under management across a wide array of real asset investments. It also gives us a foothold in Ireland which may benefit our wider asset management business as Brexit unfolds. We believe there is a significant investment opportunity in forestry and this area will continue to be a key focus for Gresham House moving forward as we look for further ways to add value for our clients.”
Commenting on the new mandate, GHAM’s Managing Director of Forestry, Olly Hughes, said:
“We are thrilled to have brought this landmark transaction together and to support AXA IM – Real Assets’ efforts to offer investors long-term sustainable investments. Environmental, social and governance concerns are becoming increasingly important for investors. Not only is forestry renewable and satisfies ESG criteria, it is also a portfolio diversifier and delivers excellent returns being uncorrelated to stock markets, protected against inflation and possessing significant tax advantages. As the asset class continues to grow in popularity, we believe Gresham House Forestry will be well positioned to meet the increasing demand from investors not only in the UK and Ireland but also across Europe more generally.
Richard Hoare, Chairman of Veon, said:
“We are pleased to have realised this important transaction for the Irish Forestry Funds and to continue our involvement in their long-term stewardship. This is a very positive development for our shareholders, with the Portfolio’s value and returns serving as a strong endorsement of the Irish forestry and timber sector. We look forward to playing our part in continuing to grow the national forest estate and helping further develop the forest industry which is of critical importance in combatting the effects climate change.”