TIAA-CREF, a leading financial services provider, yesterday announced it has acquired a majority stake in GreenWood Resources, Inc. (GWR), one of the nation’s leading timberland investment management organizations. The combination strengthens the size, geographic diversification and scalability of TIAA-CREF’s natural resources platform and underscores the firm’s commitment to sustainable environmental practices.
Timber assets can serve as a source of portfolio diversification and a potentially stronger hedge against inflation as compared to publicly traded equities and fixed income investments. Macroeconomic conditions, including a growing population and increasing demand for timber and biofuels, make this asset category a compelling long-term investment. With the addition of GWR, timber investments owned or managed by TIAA total approximately $1.8 billion, with investments covering 840,000 acres around the world in North America, Latin America, South America, Central Europe, Asia and Oceania.
“We partner with skilled professionals to leverage their specialized knowledge and local access,” said Jose Minaya, managing director and head of global natural resources and infrastructure investments at TIAA-CREF. “Our relationship with GreenWood Resources will allow us to further diversify our timber investments into new regions while maintaining our commitment to social and environmental best practices, which in turn can offer the opportunity for more consistent investment results over the long term.”
GWR develops and manages sustainable tree farms and their products, specializing in short-rotation, fast-growing species. GWR’s management team brings extensive tree breeding, operational and investment experience in a variety of geographies and tree species, such as poplar, eucalyptus, pine and acacia.
“GreenWood Resources was founded with the mission of meeting the needs of our clients and communities in which we invest through one of the earth’s most renewable resources – trees – by using superior plant material and sustainable practices,” said Jeff Nuss, president and chief executive officer of GreenWood Resources. “Partnering with TIAA-CREF will allow us to accelerate our investments in innovation, grow our platform and take advantage of attractive new markets to best meet our clients’ needs.”
The company will join TIAA-CREF as a subsidiary. GWR’s existing management team will remain with the company, and GWR will continue to manage current client assets. As part of the transaction, Clark Binkley, Ph.D. will join GWR as managing director and chief investment officer.
Yesterday's announcement builds on TIAA’s expertise in managing real assets, which includes investments in real estate, energy, infrastructure, farmland and timber, and follows the company’s acquisition of a majority stake in agricultural investment manager Westchester Group, Inc. in 2010.
TIAA-CREF began investing in timberland in 1998 and is committed to sustainable timber investment and management. Both TIAA-CREF and GWR’s timber investments are managed according to third-party certification programs such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which call for high social and environmental standards.
TIAA-CREF is one of several investors that created the Principles for Responsible Investment in Farmland, launched in September 2011. These principles aim to improve the sustainability, transparency and accountability of investments in farmland . TIAA-CREF is also a signatory to the U.N. Principles for Responsible Investment.
TIAA-CREF is a national financial services organization with $481 billion in assets under management (as of 6/30/12) and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.
About GreenWood Resources, Inc.
GreenWood Resources, Inc. (GWR, www.greenwoodresources.com), founded in 1998, is a global timberland investment management company specializing in the acquisition, development and management of high-yield, short-rotation, sustainable tree farms. GWR specializes in creating value through the integrated deployment of improved plant material and intensive silvicultural management strategies to seek attractive risk-adjusted returns in selected regions of the world. GWR has more than 80 professionals with offices and field locations in North America, South America, Central Europe, and Asia. GWR currently manages approximately $350 million of assets or commitments and is committed to certifying its tree farms under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
In addition, GWR has been a leader in the research and development of hybrid poplar as one of the key future sustainable feedstocks for bioenergy and biofuels and are leading the way in the development of dedicated energy plantations for strategic converting technology partners.
Source:Abby Aylman Cohen-TIAA-CREF