Tuesday 15 October 2019

UK asset manager plans to build on Irish forestry deal

Forestry and renewables specialist sees this country as launchpad to Europe, writes Fearghal O'Connor

Gresham House, which is now managing 10,000 acres of forest here, plans to open an Irish office
Gresham House, which is now managing 10,000 acres of forest here, plans to open an Irish office

London based specialist alternative asset manager Gresham House Asset Management (GHAM) is planning new forestry and renewable projects after taking over management of 10,000 acres of Irish forests.

GHAM wants to win a slice of an Irish market that it believes is worth billions of euro, said CEO Tony Dalwood. The asset manager also plans to open an Irish office to grow its asset management business both here and in Europe, he said.

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"There is a massive opportunity in Ireland for renewables and also in forestry, which is often found in and around wind farms," he said.

"In our UK woodlands assets we have added value over the last ten years by identifying wind or hydroelectric opportunities for clients and we hope that opportunity potentially exists within the Irish forestry asset class."

Afforestation - the planting of new forests - is "absolutely part of the long term plan", Dalwood said. "Our intention is to grow in Ireland by raising and managing more forestry assets and by investing in similar types of renewable projects in Ireland as in the UK, such as battery storage alongside wind and solar energy."

The plans follows the acquisition - revealed in last week's Sunday Independent - of a 10,000-acre portfolio of mature Irish forests by AXA IM - Real Assets. It bought the portfolio from forestry consultancy Veon Ltd for an undisclosed sum on behalf of clients.

London stock exchange-quoted GHAM has been appointed by AXA as exclusive asset manager to the huge portfolio of mature Irish forests on a long-term contract.

"The forestry deal is just the beginning of what we want we want to do to build capability and bring investment into Ireland," said Dalwood. "We want to build asset management capability in Ireland and almost a year ago I was introduced to this opportunity by Deloitte. We are the largest forestry asset manager in the UK, with over a billion pounds worth of assets under management with timber and forestry and so it was natural for us to build on that with this opportunity."

The portfolio - historically very large by UK and Irish standards - is divided across 185 Irish estates.

Sunday Indo Business

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