South Korean pension giant National Pension Service (NPS) has invested US$150 million in UK asset manager Stafford Capital Partners’ ninth timberland investment fund, which raised $532 million in the interim close last July.
The fund primarily acquires land to be developed or transformed for timber production and agricultural farmland.
Timberland investments began in North America in the early 1980s. Some 40 years later, Dongbu Insurance and Dongbu Life Insurance became the first Korean asset owners to invest in timberland in 2017.
NPS, the world’s third largest pension fund with 807 trillion won ($730 billion) of assets as of November 2020, is making its first timberland investment “after carefully studying it for a substantial period, as part of efforts to diversify our portfolio”, according to Chief Investment Officer Ahn Hyo-Joon.
“Timberland investment not only aligns with the NPS investment philosophy of pursuing stable returns over the long term, but is also an attractive investment from a sustainable investing perspective,” he says in a statement on February 19.
According to figures from the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US, more than $100 billion of institutional money has poured into timberland investment funds as of August 2020.
London-based Stafford Capital currently manages $7.7 billion of assets.