Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
Initial Investment: February 2001
Exited: July 2007
GEF acquired the plantations, along with three sawmills and two value-added processing facilities (South Africa Plywood (Pty) Limited), to establish Global Forest Products (Pty) Ltd. (“GFP”), an integrated forest products company based in South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province. Although the plantations were producing high-quality trees at the time of acquisition, the processing infrastructure was badly run-down, and the business was underperforming. GEF achieved certification as “well-managed” by the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) for GFP’s 90,000 hectares of plantations and protected areas, meeting an internationally recognized set of environmental, social, and operational criteria for sustainable forest management. GFP also demonstrated its commitment to its 2,000+ employees, and the communities in which they lived, by providing health, sanitation, education, and other human services. Examples of services GEF introduced were health clinics and HIV counseling, clean water, local schools, and nutrition programs. GEF recruited an international management team and implemented a significant capital expenditure program to modernize outdated equipment. With a new focus on product quality and customer service, along with extensive employee training at all levels of the company, the business returned to profitability by 2006. Under GEF ownership, revenues increased by a compounded annual growth rate of 15%. In 2007, GEF sold GFP and related entities to York Timber, a publicly listed South African forest products company, returning the company to historically under-represented African ownership.