NORCROSS, GA-Wells Timberland REIT Inc. and MeadWestvaco have finalized their $400-million deal. With the ink dry, Wells Timberland now owns and leases approximately 320,000 acres of commercially managed forestland across Georgia and Alabama.

The transaction, first made public in August, is the year’s fourth-largest timberland transaction, according to Forestweb. Specifically under the deal, Wells Timberland will own approximately 228,000 acres and have the long-term leaseholds to another 95,000 acres, as previously reported.

“This closing is a real milestone for the fund,” Jess Jarratt, president of Wells Timberland Investment Management Organization, explains in a statement. “Our plan is to manage these lands professionally and responsibly for our investors.”

The MeadWestvaco deal marks the first transaction for Wells Timberland, which was launched by Wells real Estate Funds Inc. in May with $750 million in seed money, as previously reported. At that time, Jarratt estimated that Wells Timberland would acquire approximately one million acres with the first round of funding.

According to a Wells release, the properties, spread across Stewart, Marion, Quitman and Randolph counties in Georgia, and in Russell, Barbour and Chambers counties in Alabama, are located in close proximity to numerous pulp mills and sawtimber plants. Wells and MeadWestvaco have agreed to a long-term fiber supply arrangement to support MeadWestvaco’s paperboard mill operations. Wells plans to continue to manage the lands under Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards.

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