What Happened to the Forests
Where Did Our Assets Finally End Up?
Most people... find a disorientating mismatch between the long-term nature of their liabilities and the increasingly short-term nature of their assets.
- James A Baldwin
466 ha of cutting rights and 520 ha of freehold were purchased by Highland Timber PLC (HEAD OFFICE: 23 Cathedral Yard, Exeter EX1 1HB Tel: (01392) 412 122 Fax: (01392) 253 282) for $4.1 million. These purchases included:
The auditor of Highland Timber was PriceWaterhouse. Highland Timber is an AIM company, apparently started in 1994. As of 28/4/98, the company was reported to own two forests in New Zealand. For £30, information could once have been obtained online on this company at http://www/hemscott.com, after clicking on Company Refs. (I did not obtain that information because it cost too much. I don't know if the information to be found there had value to unitholders or not. That link is no longer operational, though, and I don't know their new address, if there even is one.)
44 ha of cutting rights and 422 ha of freehold land was purchased by Utaraya Finance for $2.5 million. These included:
Utaraya Finance Inc, is owned by two family trusts named Tirox and Rotix in Liechtenstein but ultimately owned in the United Kingdom. In February 1995, they bought 460 hectares of land in the Northland for $880,000, and 325 hectares of land near Rotorua for $1,600,000 on which they proposed to establish a commercial forestry operation. Supposedly, they have "extensive experience in forestry investments."
It may be worth noting that a forester representing two potential purchasers for the Flat Rock Forest contacted the credit manager responsible for FRFT at Countrywide before receivers were appointed, but neither Countrywide nor the receivers ever responded.
The freehold of Rocky River and the forestry right at Wilanda Downs were purchased by Ellis Campbell for $712,620.
Ellis Campbell (New Zealand) Ltd is ultimately owned by Ellis Campbell Group of the United Kingdom. In May 1995, they bought 98 hectares of land in Marlborough for $150,000. They proposed “to develop the property, which is currently reverting to scrub land into a commercial forestry operation." Ellis Campbell bought 240 hectares of land in Marlborough in March 1990 and a further 807 hectares in December 1991. Some was existing forest; the rest was scrub land "reverting to weeds" which would also be converted to forest.
In searching for information on Ellis Campbell, I ran across this interesting bit of information dated May 1995:
Tiong subsidiary buys 151 ha in Manawatu from Crown for $40,000
An interesting rural land sale sees Manuka Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of the Malaysian Tiong family company, Ernslaw One Ltd, acquiring the freehold of 151 hectares of land in the Manawatu from the Crown for $39,787.
"In 1994 consent was granted to Ernslaw acquiring all of the shares in Manuka. At that time Manuka owned/leased 1,665 hectares of land in the Manawatu. The land included 151 hectares of land leased from the Crown under a long term renewable lease. Pursuant to the Land Act 1948 there is an ability for the tenant under the leasehold estate to purchase the freehold interest in the land. Manuka has now decided to exercise this right."
This continues a pattern: in November 1994 we reported:
"Ernslaw One Ltd, through subsidiary Manuka Holdings Ltd, is also forcing the Crown to sell it, for an absurdly cheap price, 314 hectares of land in the Manawatu which it had been leasing. It will pay $25,020 or $80 per hectare. In April 1994, the OIC gave Ernslaw One approval to buy 1,665 hectares of land in the Manawatu, of which 465 hectares was leased from the Crown under long term renewable leases. The cost of this purchase (including the leased Crown land) was $11.2 million, or over $6,700 per hectare. ‘The Commission is advised that Manuka now wishes to acquire the freehold interest in approximately 314 hectares of the leasehold land pursuant to the Land Act 1948 which provides for the tenant under the leasehold estate to purchase the freehold interest.’ One can be sure that the drafters of the 1948 Act did not have this in mind."
I presume this land could once have been purchased by Flat Rock Forests Trust for the benefit of the unitholders.
No mention was made of the freehold parcel Medlicott and (possibly) the freehold land for Rangitumau. (“Possibly” because it’s been described variously as both freehold and as a forestry right only.)
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